North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast on Friday, the South Korean military said, amid rising tensions.
South Korea also deployed fighter jets as a group of about 10 North Korean military planes flew close to its fortified border, and North Korea fired some 170 artillery rounds into “sea buffer zones” off its eastern and western coasts. said the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South.
South Korea’s National Security Council condemned the North for escalating tensions, calling its moves a violation of a 2018 bilateral military pact that bans “hostile acts” in the border area.
Seoul imposed its first unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang in nearly five years, blacklisting 15 people and 16 North Korean institutions related to missile development.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a warning to North Korea, urging it to stop provocations and escalation.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told reporters that Pyongyang has been “carrying out provocations indiscriminately,” vowing to devise “tight countermeasures.”
Yoon’s spokesman said his government respects inter-Korean agreements and the removal of the 2018 military pact depends on Pyongyang’s behavior.
The North Korean military issued a statement through the state-run media outlet KCNA early Friday saying it had taken “strong military countermeasures” over South Korean artillery fire on Thursday.
South Korea’s National Security Council said the shooting was a “routine and legitimate” exercise.
The incidents came after the KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles to confirm the reliability of nuclear-capable weapons deployed in military units.
The unprecedented frequency of North Korea’s missile launches has raised concerns that it may be preparing to resume nuclear bomb tests for the first time since 2017. Some analysts don’t expect any tests before neighboring China concludes a congress. key to the Communist Party in power, which begins on October 16.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the latest missile launch and that it “does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies.”
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the North’s repeated missile tests were “absolutely unacceptable” and that his country was going to “drastically strengthen” its defense.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said all sides should refrain from escalating tension and resume meaningful dialogue for a political solution.