North Korea launches seemingly failed ICBM and two short-range missiles

North Korea unsuccessfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in a fresh salvo of launches on Thursday, the South Korean military said, with Washington urging all nations to apply sanctions against Pyongyang.

The launches prompted South Korea and the United States to extend their ongoing joint air drills, the largest exercises ever, citing “provocations” by North Korea.

Residents of parts of northern Japan were ordered to take cover during the latest launches from the North, which also included two short-range missiles and followed a blitz of projectiles fired wednesday.

The largest of Thursday’s launches, however, “is presumed to have ended in failure”, the South Korean military said.

The United States condemned the launch of the ICBM despite its apparent failure.

“This action underscores the need for all countries to fully implement UN Security Council resolutions relating to the DPRK,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, using the official name of the North of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Washington also confirmed information provided by the South Korean military, which earlier said it detected the launch of the long-range ballistic missile around 7:40 a.m. local time in the Sunan area of ​​Pyongyang.

Japan Koreas Tensions
People walk past a television screen showing a report on North Korea’s recent missile launches near Japan on November 3, 2022 in Tokyo. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pictured.

Shuji Kajiyama/AP

The Seoul Joint Chiefs of Staff said the ICBM appeared to have failed in the “second-stage separation”.

“The range of the long-range ballistic missile is approximately 760 kilometers (472 miles), an altitude of 1,920 kilometers (1,193 miles) at a speed of Mach 15,” the military said.

It also detected what were “thought to be two short-range ballistic missiles fired at around 08:39 from Kaechon, South Pyongan Province”.

South Korea’s military “maintains a posture of full readiness while cooperating closely with the United States and strengthening surveillance and vigilance,” he said.

Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, including one that landed near South Korean territorial waters.

A short-range ballistic missile crossed the northern boundary line, the de facto maritime border, on Wednesday, prompting President Yoon Suk-yeol to call it “effectively a territorial invasion”.

The launches come as Seoul and Washington hold their largest joint air exercises, involving hundreds of fighter jets from both sides.

Pyongyang called the exercise, dubbed Vigilant Storm, “an aggressive and provocative military exercise targeting the DPRK” and warned that if it continues, Seoul and Washington “will pay the most horrible price in history”.

The exercise was due to end on Friday, but South Korea’s air force said on Thursday it would extend aerial exercises with the United States in response to the latest launches.

“The Joint Air Force has agreed to extend Exercise Vigilant Storm which began Oct. 31 in regards to recent Northern provocations,” the Air Force said in a statement.

Tokyo confirmed Thursday’s launches, with the Japanese government issuing a special warning to people in northern regions to stay indoors or seek shelter.

Tokyo initially said the missile flew over Japan, causing a “J alert” to be issued, but Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada later said that “the missile did not cross the archipelago Japanese, but disappeared over the Sea of ​​Japan”.

Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned that Kim Jong Un’s recent missile launches could lead to another nuclear testwhich would be Pyongyang’s seventh.

“The next entirely possible tactical nuclear weapons test will be next. Possibly very soon,” Chad O’Carroll of Seoul-based specialist site NK News said on Twitter.

Ahn Chan-il, a scholar of North Korean studies, agrees.

“These are North Korea’s pre-celebration events before their next nuclear test,” he told Agence France-Presse. “They also look like a series of practical tests for their tactical nuclear deployment.”

North Korea revised its laws in September to allow preemptive nuclear strikes, with leader Kim declaring the country an “irreversible” nuclear power, ending negotiations over its banned weapons programs.

US and South Korean officials told CBS News that Kim is preparing to conduct an atomic test soon as he continues to develop a tactical nuclear weapon. A nuclear test would signal that Kim has successfully expanded his weapons program through the Trump and Biden administrations and despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We think they’re ready to go. Just give Kim a thumbs up,” a senior US State Department official told CBS News.

A tactical nuclear device is designed for potential battlefield use.

On October 4, North Korea fired a missile at Japan which also triggered evacuation warnings. Pyongyang later claimed it was a new type of “intermediate range surface-to-surface ballistic missile”. It was the first time North Korea had fired a missile at Japan since 2017.

Pyongyang later claimed the launch and a blizzard of other tests around the same time were “tactical nuclear exercises” that simulated showering South Korea with nuclear-tipped missiles.

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