North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday, Seoul said the day after the kickoff of the largest joint maneuvers with the United States for five years.
“Our military detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired towards the East Sea from the Jangyon area in South Hwanghae Province between 7:41 a.m. (2241 GMT) and 7:51 a.m.,” the staff said. in a statement, referring to the expanse also known as the Sea of Japan.
“Our armed forces have increased their surveillance and vigilance in preparation for other launches, while standing ready to intervene within the framework of close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” he said. added.
On Sunday, Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles from a submarine, on the eve of joint “Freedom Shield” exercises.
North Korea said the launch was aimed at testing its “nuclear deterrents in different spaces”, while criticizing exercises dubbed “Freedom Shield” which began Monday for at least ten days.
This type of maneuvers, intended according to the two allies to fight against the growing threats of Pyongyang, arouse the ire of North Korea. She views them as dress rehearsals for an invasion of her territory and regularly warns against “overwhelming” action in response to them.
The South Korean military said the drills will “involve wartime procedures to repel potential North Korean attacks and conduct a stabilization campaign in the North.”
Last week, Washington and Seoul conducted joint aerial exercises last week with a nuclear-capable US B-52 heavy bomber.
– “New demonstrations of force” –
In 2022, the North called its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” and conducted a record number of ballistic tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Last week, leader Kim Jong Un ordered his army to step up military maneuvers for “real war”.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said that while Pyongyang regularly justifies its missile tests by pointing the finger at military drills in the South, these also serve a national purpose.
“A lot of it is about the Kim regime not looking weak as it struggles economically at home and South Korea manages to build up its conventional firepower and partnerships in security,” he told AFP.
“As a result, we can expect further shows of force from Pyongyang.”
Washington has repeatedly reaffirmed its “unwavering” commitment to defending South Korea using “the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear.”
For its part, South Korea wants to appease a public that seems worried about the United States’ commitment to so-called extended deterrence, which wants Washington’s military means, including nuclear weapons, to be used to prevent attacks against his allies.
Analysts have previously said North Korea would likely use the maneuvers as a pretext to launch more missiles or even a nuclear test.
“Further missile launches, with variations in style and range, and even a nuclear test are to be expected. Further acts of intimidation by North Korea should come as no surprise.” , said Chun In-bum, a retired general in the South Korean army.