North Korea fired a volley of missiles Wednesday, including what is likely its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, hours after US President Joe Biden left the region.
In addition, “tests of a nuclear explosive device in preparation for a seventh nuclear test” have been discovered, said Kim Tae-hyo, first deputy director of South Korea’s National Security Bureau, adding that a nuclear test may be imminent.
Seoul said at least three rockets were fired at 6 a.m. (11 p.m. Swiss), 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m. from Sunan, a Pyongyang suburb, into the Sea of Japan. “It was decided that the first launch was from the new Hwasong-17 ICBM,” Kim Tae-hyo said. It is the largest ICBM North Korea has ever attempted to test without success.
That salvo, which comes on top of about twenty tests fired by Pyongyang this year, provoked the launching of missiles and the mobilization of American and South Korean warplanes in response, with the two countries denouncing the North Korean regime’s ongoing “provocations”.
Seoul condemned “an illegal act in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.” Washington has also “condemned the multiple launches of ballistic missiles” by North Korea, a US State Department spokesman said late Tuesday, urging Pyongyang to “refrain from further provocation and to engage in constructive, substantive dialogue.”
“The first ballistic missile (the alleged ICBM) had a range of about 360 kilometers and an altitude of about 540 kilometers,” South Korea’s general staff said in a statement. The second “disappeared at an altitude of 20 kilometers,” and the third projectile – a suspected short-range ballistic missile – flew about 760 kilometers at an altitude of about 60 kilometers.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said one of the ballistic missiles followed “an irregular trajectory”. Pyongyang is working on technologies to maneuver missiles after launch, including “hyposonic glide technology,” which would make intercepting missile defense systems more difficult.
The North Korean regime, under United Nations sanctions over its weapons programs, has accelerated its missile tests in recent months, blaming the United States’ “hostile” stance. It tested an ICBM in March for the first time since 2017.
And South Korean and American intelligence agencies suspect him of planning an imminent nuclear test, his first in five years.
Message to Joe Biden
The trials are “clearly aligned with President Biden’s return from his visit to South Korea and Japan,” said Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
During his stay in Seoul, the American President and his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol said, according to the latter, that they were “preparing” to intensify their joint military exercises and to station warplanes or missiles on the peninsula. for a nuclear attack”.
Park said the North Korean missile launches were intended to show “North Korea’s objections” to the announcements.
Shortly before leaving South Korea for Japan on Sunday, when asked by a journalist if he had a message for the North Korean leader, Joe Biden replied with a laconic, “Hello. Point”. A way to get word that Washington remains open to dialogue with North Korea, even if there is no reciprocity.
Talks with Pyongyang have stalled since a failed summit in 2019 between Mr Kim and then-US President Donald Trump. The North Korean regime ignored all offers of dialogue from Washington.
South Korean Secretary of State Park Jin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone after Wednesday’s launches, the State Department said.
They called it “deeply regrettable” that amid the Covid-19 epidemic that is sweeping it, North Korea is “devoting its main financial resources to developing nuclear weapons and missiles instead of quarantine and improving people’s livelihoods.”
This article was published automatically. Sources: ats/afp
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