Tuesday, June 6, 2023

North Korea fires 2 ballistic missiles in resumption of test

by Hyung-jin Kim

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Sunday, its first weapons test in a month and came two days after it claimed it had built a more mobile important test. Powerful intercontinental ballistic missile designed to strike the US mainland.

South Korea’s military detected the launch of two North Korean ballistic missiles from its northwest Tongchangri area. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missiles flew across the country towards its eastern waters.

It said the missiles were fired about 50 minutes apart, but gave no further details, such as what type of warhead North Korea fired and how far they flew. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that South Korea’s military has strengthened its surveillance posture and maintained readiness in close coordination with the United States.

Japanese officials said the two missiles fell in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan and there was no damage to ships or human injuries. Japanese Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Inoue told reporters that both missiles had a range of 500 kilometers (310 mi) at a maximum altitude of 550 kilometers (340 mi). He criticized North Korea for endangering the security of Japan, the region and the international community.

The Tongchangri area is home to North Korea’s Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, where the country has in previous years launched satellite-carrying long-range rockets in what the United Nations called a disguised test of ICBM technology.

North Korea said Friday it tested a “high-thrust solid-fuel motor” for a new strategic weapon at the Sohae facility the previous day, a development that experts say could make it more mobile, harder-to-detect Can allow arsenal. Intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the US mainland.

Sunday’s launch is the North’s first public weapons test since the country last month launched its developmental, longest-range liquid-fueled Hwasong-17 ICBM capable of reaching the entire US homeland. Earlier this year, North Korea tested several more missiles at a record pace, despite economic difficulties related to the pandemic and US-led pressure to halt its nuclear program.

North Korea has defended its weapons tests as self-defense measures to counter expanded US-South Korea military exercises, which it sees as an invasion rehearsal. But some experts say North Korea has used its rivals’ military training as a pretext to increase its arsenal of weapons and increase its leverage in future negotiations with the US to win sanctions relief and other concessions. Did.

“In the face of mounting diplomatic pressure after an unprecedented year for North Korean missile tests, the Kim regime is determined to show no weakness ahead of its new year of political events,” said Professor Leif-Erik Eisley of Iwha University in Seoul. “

The weapon North Korea said it could build with a recently tested motor likely refers to a solid-fueled ICBM, one of a list of high-tech weapon systems that leader Kim Jong Un vowed to buy during a major ruling party conference early last year. , Other weapons systems Kim has promised to build include a multiple-warhead missile, underwater-launched nuclear missiles and spy satellites.

All of North Korea’s existing ICBMs use liquid propellant, which must be added to the warhead before it can be fired. This makes it relatively easy for outsiders to view launch preparations via satellites. But solid-propellant rockets have the fuel already loaded inside, so it shortens launch preparation time, increases their maneuverability and makes it harder for outsiders to know what’s happening before liftoff. Is. North Korea already has a growing arsenal of short-range, solid-fueled ballistic missiles that target key locations, including US military bases in South Korea.

In response to North Korea’s testing activities, South Korean and US militaries have expanded their regular exercises and resumed trilateral training with Japan. But security panic about North Korea’s nuclear weapons has grown in South Korea and Japan, as the North has threatened preemptive use of nuclear weapons, deploying nuclear-capable, short-range missiles along its border with South Korea. Testing and Testing – Fired missiles over Japan.

The exact status of North Korea’s nuclear strike capability remains in secrecy.

Some experts speculate that North Korea already has nuclear-tipped missiles that could hit the entire United States and its allies South Korea and Japan, given the years it has spent on its nuclear program. But others say the country is still years away from achieving such a weapon, noting that it has yet to publicly prove that it is capable of creating warheads small enough to be placed on missiles or capable of atmospheric re-entry. It is a technology to protect weapons from harsh conditions.


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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