New notice. South Korea and the United States fired several missiles at maritime targets on Wednesday, the day after Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over Japan on Tuesday. A first in five years that had led Tokyo to activate its alert system.
According to the South Korean General Staff, the South Korean and US armies each fired two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles “to accurately hit a virtual target” in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday. These exercises “have shown that we are capable and ready to neutralize the source of the provocation by maintaining a constant monitoring position,” he added in a press release.
The South Korean military, however, confirmed the failed launch of a fifth Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missile, which crashed to the ground shortly after launch. The missile warhead did not explode and no one was injured, according to staff. But a major fire broke out and caused panic in the city of Gangneung on South Korea’s east coast, with many worried residents calling the city hall, authorities said.
On Tuesday, South Korean and American fighters had already conducted precision strike exercises, according to Seoul, with two South Korean F-15K fighters dropping bombs on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea. The spokesman of the American National Security Council John Kirby, interviewed by CNN, indicated that it was “responding to the provocations of the North, to be sure we can demonstrate our abilities”. “It doesn’t have to come to this. We made it clear to Kim Jong-un that we are ready to sit at the table without preconditions,” he added.
Return of the American nuclear aircraft carrier
The South Korean military also announced on Wednesday the return to the region of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which conducted exercises with the South Korean navy in September.
North Korea, which adopted a new doctrine in September making its nuclear power status “irreversible”, this year stepped up its launch and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017. The launch on Tuesday was the fifth out of ten days. Pyongyang has not commented on the matter in the official media. The United Nations Security Council will meet on Wednesday on this issue.
According to Seoul and Tokyo, the missile has traveled around 4,600 km, probably the longest distance Pyongyang has ever reached in its tests. Missiles are usually launched in an elevated trajectory to avoid flying over neighboring countries. According to experts and senior officials, the missile is a nuclear-capable Hwasong-12 IRBM. It was first tested in 2017 and is capable of reaching US bases on the island of Guam.