Seoul: N Korea has launched an alleged ICBM and 2 other missiles

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired an alleged intercontinental ballistic missile and two shorter-range weapons into the sea on Wednesday, South Korea said President Joe Biden a few hours after the end of his trip to Asia, where he reaffirmed his US commitment. defended its allies against the nuclear threat in the North.

If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s first ICBM launch in two months, stopping nuclear diplomacy with the United States. Recent launches suggest that the North has decided to continue its efforts to modernize its weapons arsenal despite the first appearance of COVID-19, despite external concerns about a humanitarian catastrophe.

“North Korea’s continued provocations can only lead to a stronger and faster deterrent to South Korea and the United States, and have only deepened North Korea’s international isolation,” the South Korean government said after an emergency security meeting.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called the shooting “an act of provocation and completely unacceptable.” The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command previously said the missile launch highlights “the destabilizing impact of (North Korea) ‘s illegal weapons program,” even though they posed no immediate threat to U.S. territory and its allies.

According to the South Korean military, three missiles were fired one after the other from the northern capital region on Wednesday morning before landing in the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

A military statement said the first missile would be an ICBM and would reach a maximum altitude of 540 kilometers (335 miles) while traveling 360 kilometers (223 miles). The statement said the second missile had once disappeared from South Korean radar and that the third missile had flown 760 kilometers (472 miles) at a peak of 60 kilometers (37 miles).

The details of the alleged ICBM flight were similar to North Korea’s previous two launches, with South Korean and U.S. armies saying they had to test the components of North Korea’s largest Hwasong-17 missile on medium-range shots, not full. bunch. North Korea said at the time the two shots were aimed at testing the cameras of a satellite spy.

After the previous two shots, the South Korean military detected in March what it said was a North Korean Hwasong-17 missile, which took off and immediately exploded. Later in March, North Korea said it had successfully launched Hwasong-17 in the first test of a full-range ICBM flight that broke the 2018 self-imposed moratorium on long-range shooting.

South Korea said North Korea may have launched a smaller ICBM, not a Hwasong-17. In any case, the missile was longer and taller than any other weapon tested by the North, and experts were able to reach the entire U.S. continent.

Lee Choon Geun, an honorary researcher at the South Korean Institute of Science and Technology Policy, said it was possible for the North to test the first stage of the Hwasong-17 booster and other technical elements to avoid another failure in a full-range test.

Chang Young-keun, an expert on missiles at South Korean Aerospace University in South Korea, said that before the missile exploded, two shots from the North were likely aimed at testing engine sets. Seeing this, North Korea said on Wednesday whether it had really relaunched the ICBM on Wednesday, saying the country would have no reason to do the same test over and over again and squander an ICBM worth about 10-20 billion won ($ 8-16 billion).

Chang said the details of the third missile flight were similar to the hypersonic missile North Korea tested in January. Other analysts say the North KN-23 missile could also be highly maneuverable and nuclear.

There is less ambiguity about a North Korean ICBM and what it was trying to show by mixing short-range missiles, Leek said. Biden’s recent visit to the country underscored his commitment to defending South Korea and Japan, with North Korea responding by showing that its allies in the U.S. mainland and Asia were seeking the ability to carry out nuclear attacks.

“(Findings) were a political message. They are saying they feel bad about Biden’s recent meeting with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Change said.

Biden and Yoon said after a meeting on Saturday that they would consider extensive military exercises to prevent North Korea’s nuclear threats.

Biden dismissed questions about the provocations that North Korea may provoke on his trip, saying, “We are ready for anything North Korea does.” Biden Fumio Kishida later met with Japanese Prime Minister Tokyo in Tokyo and vowed to work closely with them to address security challenges, including North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic programs and what they called China’s “increasingly restrictive” behavior in the region.

After the North American fire, South Korean and U.S. troops said they fired two surface-to-air missiles to demonstrate their striking capabilities. Seoul officials said allies had previously warned that North Korea was preparing for the launch. South Korean air forces said on Tuesday that they had made an “elephant ride” as 30 F-15Ks were paraded across a runway that was fully armed with fighter jets.

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s 17th missile launch this year. Experts say North Korea wants to move forward with a push to modernize its weapons arsenal and apply more pressure to rivals to ease sanctions and obtain other concessions in the slump of nuclear diplomacy.

Officials in the United States, South Korea and Japan have said that North Korea could soon conduct its first nuclear test in almost five years. Kim Tae-hyo Yoon, a national security adviser, told reporters on Wednesday that North Korea was testing the launch system for a nuclear bomb and other technologies.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korea’s final missile tests were conducted on May 12, just hours after the country approved the COVID-19 outbreak and ended a controversial coronavirus-free claim for more than two years.

The country has said in recent days that there has been “a positive sign” of the anti-virus campaign. Since accepting the blast, North Korea has identified about 3 million cases of an unidentified fever, but said only 68 people were killed, a very low death toll from COVID-19. On Wednesday, state media reported no more deaths from fever for the second day in a row.

Experts say North Korea has limited health resources and that mortality may be underestimated to prevent political harm to Kimi.

North Korea has ignored offers to send vaccines, medicines and other aid items to South Korea and the United States. A large portion of North Korea’s 26 million people remain unaccounted for and the country’s free socialist public health system has been in ruins for decades.

“At a time when the people of North Korea are suffering the pain of the spread of COVID-19, North Korea is using its crucial resources to develop nuclear weapons and missiles instead of measures to fight the virus and improve livelihoods, which is very unfortunate.” Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said.

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Associate Press writer Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this Tokyo report.

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