North Korea conducts 4th round of missile tests in 1 week

Sep 30, 2022, 4:49 PM | Updated: Oct 1, 2022, 4:58 pm
A TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file imagery, ...

A TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch with file imagery, is seen at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. On Saturday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters, South Korean and Japanese officials said, making it the fourth round of weapons launches this week that are seen as a response to military drills among its rivals. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea on Saturday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles, its neighbors said, the fourth round this week of weapons launches that prompted quick, strong condemnation from its rivals.

In an unusually strong rebuke of North Korea’s weapons programs, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea’s “obsession” with nuclear weapons is deepening the suffering of its own people, and warned of an “overwhelming response” from South Korean and U.S. militaries should such weapons be used.

“North Korea hasn’t abandoned its obsession with nukes and missiles despite the persistent international objection in the past 30 years,” Yoon said during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the military headquarters in central South Korea. “The development of nuclear weapons will plunge the lives of North Korean people in further pains.”

“If North Korea attempts to use nukes, it’ll face a resolute, overwhelming response by the South Korea-U.S. alliance and our military,” Yoon said.

Yoon’s comments could enrage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who in July alleged that Yoon’s government was led by “confrontation maniacs” and “gangsters.” Kim has also rebuffed Yoon’s offers of massive assistance in return for denuclearization.

The North’s testing spree this week is seen as a response to recent naval drills between South Korea and the United States and their other training that involved Japan. North Korea views such military exercises by the allies as an invasion rehearsal and argues they reveal U.S. and South Korean “double standards” because they brand the North’s weapons tests as provocation.

On Saturday, South Korea, Japanese and U.S. militaries said they detected the two North Korean missile launches. South Korea said the liftoffs occurred from North Korea’s capital region.

According to South Korean and Japanese estimates, the missiles flew about 350-400 kilometers (220-250 miles) at a maximum altitude of 30-50 kilometers (20-30 miles) before they landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. Toshiro Ino, Japan’s vice defense minister, said the missiles showed “irregular” trajectory.

Some observers say the weapons’ reported low and “irregular” trajectory suggest they were likely nuclear-capable, highly maneuverable missiles modeled after Russia’s Iskander missile. They say North Korea has developed the Iskander-like weapon to defeat South Korean and U.S. missile defenses and strike key targets in South Korea, including U.S. military bases there.

The five other ballistic missiles fired by North Korea on three occasions this week show similar trajectories to the ones detected Saturday.

“The repeated ballistic missile firings by North Korea are a grave provocation that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Ino called the launches “absolutely impermissible,” adding that four rounds of missile testing by North Korea in a week is “unprecedented.”

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launches highlight “the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.

On Friday, South Korea, the United States and Japan held their first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast. Earlier this week, South Korean and U.S. warships conducted bilateral exercises in the area for four days. Both military drills this week involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

The North Korean missile tests this week also bookended U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit Thursday to South Korea, where she reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad” commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

Worries about North Korea’s nuclear program have grown since the North last month adopted a new law authorizing the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in certain situations, a move that shows its escalatory nuclear doctrine.

During his speech Saturday, Yoon said the North Korean law threatens South Korea’s national existence and that Seoul will expand military exercises with Washington and bolster South Korea’s own missile strike and surveillance capacities in response.

South Korean officials have typically avoided harsh rhetoric on North Korea to prevent an escalation of animosities. But Yoon’s Defense Ministry has recently warned North Korea would self-destruct if it uses its nuclear weapons

This year, North Korea has carried out a record number of missile tests in what experts call an attempt to expand its weapons arsenal amid stalled nuclear diplomacy with the United States. South Korean and U.S. officials say North Korea has also completed preparations to conduct a nuclear test, which would be the seventh of its kind and the first in five years.

Experts say Kim Jong Un eventually wants to use the enlarged nuclear arsenal to pressure the United States and others accept his country as a legitimate nuclear state, a recognition he views as necessary to win the lifting of international sanctions and other concessions.

Multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear devices. The country’s missile launches this year are seen as exploiting a divide at the U.N. council over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and U.S.-China competitions.

“North Korea’s frequent short-range missile tests may strain the isolated state’s resources. But because of deadlock on the U.N. Security Council, they are a low-cost way for the Kim regime to signal its displeasure with Washington and Seoul’s defense exercises while playing the domestic politics of countering an external threat,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

___

Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A migrant from Michoacan, Mexico, uses the CBPOne app Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Tijuana, Mexico. A...
Associated Press

Online system to seek asylum in US is quickly overwhelmed

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Hours before sunrise, migrants at one of Mexico’s largest shelters wake up and go online, hoping to secure an appointment to try to seek asylum in the U.S. The daily ritual resembles a race for concert tickets when online sales begin for a major act, as about 100 people glide their […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Challenge for Tunisian democracy: Getting voters to show up

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Tunisia was once the Arab world’s hope for a new era of democracy. Now it’s in the midst of an election that’s more of an embarrassment than a model. Barely 11% of voters turned out in the first round of parliamentary elections last month, boycotted by opposition Islamists and ignored by […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Philippines probes labor abuses in Kuwait after new killing

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine government said Saturday it will take steps to assess and prevent abuses including rape and maltreatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait, after a housemaid was killed and dumped in a desert in the oil-rich emirate. The remains of Jullebee Ranara were flown home Friday night from Kuwait, where the […]
7 hours ago
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni departs Algiers after a two day official visit in Algeria, Mo...
Associated Press

Italy’s premier visits Libya for talks on energy, migration

CAIRO (AP) — Italy’s prime minister visited Libya for talks Saturday with officials from the country’s west-based government focusing on energy and migration, top issues for Italy and the European Union. Libya is the third North African country Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited over the last two weeks as she seeks to secure new supplies […]
7 hours ago
FILE  - A view of a Flybe flight departing from Manchester Airport, Manchester, England, Jan. 13, 2...
Associated Press

Flights canceled as UK airline Flybe sinks into bankruptcy

LONDON (AP) — Struggling U.K. regional airline Flybe collapsed for the second time in three years Saturday, putting jobs on the line and leaving passengers stranded. The airline initially slumped into bankruptcy in March 2020, shedding 2,400 jobs, as coronavirus restrictions decimated the travel industry. It relaunched in April last year, flying many of the […]
7 hours ago
CORRECTS THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S NAME TO KWIYEON HA - Staff of Kyodo Senpaku Co. holds canned whale meat...
Associated Press

Japan firm opens whale meat vending machines to push sales

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A Japanese whaling operator, after struggling for years to promote its products amid protests from conservationists, has found a new way to cultivate clientele and bolster sales: whale meat vending machines. The Kujira (Whale) Store, an unmanned outlet that recently opened in the port town of Yokohama near Tokyo, houses three […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
North Korea conducts 4th round of missile tests in 1 week