The South Korean military reported that North Korea, led by Kim Jong-un, launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday.
This action occurred shortly after the United States deployed B-1B bombers for joint military exercises with allies. The situation has escalated regional tensions, with Washington collaborating with its partners to prepare for potential aggression.
As per Japanese media accounts, both missiles landed beyond Tokyo’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), though the Japanese defense ministry acknowledged only one missile.
North Korea officially confirmed the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles, describing it as part of a “tactical nuclear strike drill.” The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Pyongyang conducted this exercise late on Wednesday, simulating a “scorched earth” strike on significant command centers and operational airfields in South Korea.
According to the KCNA report, the missile unit fired the tactical ballistic missiles towards Pyongyang International Airport, successfully executing a nuclear strike mission with air bursts at a predetermined altitude of 400 meters above the target island.
North Korea’s military asserted that the drill’s intention was to send a clear message to its adversaries.
In response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that they have intensified surveillance and readiness, expecting potential further provocations and maintaining close cooperation with the United States.
These missile launches followed the conclusion of an 11-day joint military exercise between South Korea and the US, a move that had drawn criticism from North Korea.
Parallel to these events, Japanese and South Korean warplanes conducted B-1B bomber drills on the same day.
The United Nations Security Council has previously prohibited North Korea’s ballistic missile launches and enforced stringent sanctions on the country under Kim Jong-un’s leadership.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby expressed concern on Wednesday about advancing arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea, suggesting that such dealings could violate existing sanctions.
Kirby noted that Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had recently visited North Korea, reportedly in an attempt to secure artillery ammunition sales to Russia.
The US and South Korean militaries are working to enhance integration in tracking North Korean missile launches. This effort may soon extend to involve more collaboration with Japan.
US Space Force officials stated on Wednesday that during an August 18 summit, US President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to share real-time North Korea missile warning data by the end of the year.