North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday March 19, according to the South Korean military. This is its fourth show of force in a week as Seoul and Washington conduct their largest joint military drills in five years.
The South Korean army staff assured that it had detected at 11:05 a.m. (3:05 a.m. in Paris) a short-range ballistic missile fired from the vicinity of the Tongchang-ri area, in the Pyongan province of North (in the northwest of the country) towards the Sea of Japan. “Our army is fully ready, in close cooperation with the United States”he added.
US and South Korean intelligence are analyzing the projectile, which flew 800 kilometers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement, calling the launch a “serious provocation” in violation of United Nations sanctions.
Tokyo also confirmed the shooting while condemning it “vehemently” through its embassy in Beijing, Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters.
Pyongyang fired its intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday (ICBM) Hwasong-17, the most powerful in its arsenal, in the presence of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter Ju-ae, and just before a visit to Japan by South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl. Cold for years due to a historic dispute, the two neighbors have resumed language at the highest level and decided to present a united front against North Korea.
This second ICBM test carried out by Pyongyang this year was presented by North Korea as a response to military exercises “frantic” from South Korea and the United States. Seoul has been conducting its largest military maneuvers with Washington since Monday in five years, supposed to strengthen their cooperation in response to the growing threat from the North. Dubbed “Freedom Shield”, they are to last until March 23.
These exercises infuriate Pyongyang, which perceives them as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory and regularly promises a response “overwhelming”. They “close to an unforgivable red line”the official North Korean agency KCNA said about them on Saturday.
This firing itself came after the launch Tuesday of two short-range ballistic missiles and that, on March 12, of two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine. Experts had warned that it was likely that North Korea would use these maneuvers as a pretext to fire more missiles and perhaps even carry out a nuclear test, which would be the seventh in its history, the first since 2017.
In 2022, North Korea declared “irreversible” its status as a nuclear power and Kim Jong-un has called for increasing “exponential” the country’s military arsenal, including tactical nuclear weapons. Earlier this month, the leader ordered the military to step up its own maneuvers for a “real war”.