South Korea and the United States held military missile drills in response to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile that flew over Japan, as the United Nations Security Council prepares to meet in connection with what was Pyongyang’s most far-reaching test.
North Korea tested an intermediate-range nuclear ballistic missile (IRBM) on Tuesday, sending it over Japan for the first time in five years and prompting a warning for residents of that country to take cover. , and reaching the longest shooting distance so far.
South Korean and U.S. forces fired a barrage of missiles into the sea in response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday, and the allies earlier conducted a mock warplane bombing run in the Yellow Sea.
Both militaries separately confirmed that a South Korean Hyunmoo-2 missile failed shortly after launch and crashed during the drill, but that no one was injured.
Images shared on social media by a nearby resident and verified by Reuters showed smoke and flames billowing from the military base.
The fire was caused by burning rocket propellants, and although the missile carried a warhead, it did not explode, the South Korean military said.
South Korean forces apologized for causing concern among residents.
The White House National Security Council has called North Korea’s latest test “dangerous and reckless,” and the US military and its allies have stepped up shows of force.
The USS Ronald Reagan, a US aircraft carrier that made a stop in South Korea last month for the first time in years, will return to the sea between Korea and Japan in what the South Korean military called a “very unusual” move designed to show determination. of allies to respond to any threat from North Korea
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the North Korean test in the “strongest terms”.
The European Union called it a “reckless and deliberately provocative action,” and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the launch, saying it constitutes a violation of Security Council resolutions.
The UN Security Council is set to meet on Wednesday to discuss North Korea at the request of the United States, even though China and Russia told their council counterparts they opposed an open meeting of the 15-member body. They argued that the Council’s reaction should be conducive to easing the situation on the Korean peninsula, according to the diplomats.
The North Korean missile launched was the first to follow a trajectory over Japan since 2017, and its flight, estimated at 4,600 kilometers, was the longest for a North Korean test, which are usually “lifted” into space to avoid flying over neighboring countries.
Analysts and top security officials said it could have been a variant of the Hwasong-12 IRBM, which North Korea unveiled in 2017 as part of what it said was a plan to attack US military bases in Guam.
Neither the North Korean government nor its state media have reported on the launch or revealed what type of missile was used.
The flight has raised concerns that North Korea may soon carry out a long-awaited nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup told parliament that North Korea had completed preparations for a test and could use a smaller weapon intended for operational use, or a large device with higher performance. higher than in previous tests.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the test “reckless” and said it would provoke a decisive response from his country, its allies and the international community.
The launch was a “reckless and deliberately provocative action” that violated UN Security Council resolutions, a European Union spokesman said.