Passengers look at archival footage of a North Korean missile at the sea terminal on the South Korean island of Ulleungdo, where air alerts sounded after North Korean missile strikes on November 2-3 ( AFP/Anthony WALLACE)
North Korea on Thursday launched three new projectiles, including an apparently failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the day after a record salvo of fire that raised tension in the region to a fever pitch.
According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, three projectiles – two short-range missiles followed by an ICBM – were launched Thursday morning from the North towards the Sea of Japan.
“The launch of an ICBM by North Korea was likely to end in failure” during the separation of the second stage of the rocket, said the South Korean army.
According to her, this missile traveled 760 km at a maximum altitude of 1,920 km and at the speed of Mach 15 (15 times the speed of sound). The other two missiles traveled about 330 km at Mach 5 and a maximum altitude of 70 km.
Air-raid sirens sounded for the second consecutive day on the South Korean island of Ulleungdo, located 120 km east of the Korean peninsula, local media reported.
An alert was also triggered in northern Japan even if, contrary to what the authorities had initially said, the missile did not ultimately fly over the archipelago. According to Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, the projectile “disappeared over the Sea of Japan”.
“The continuous barrage of missiles day after day is an outrage and cannot be tolerated,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Thursday.
The launch “underscores the need for all countries to fully implement Security Council resolutions” sanctioning North Korea, said US State Department spokesman Ned Price.
Demilitarized zone in Korea (AFP/)
On October 4, a North Korean ballistic missile flew over Japan for the first time in five years.
On Wednesday, North Korea had already fired 23 missiles, one of which had crossed the “Northern Limit Line” (NLL) which extends the inter-Korean land border at sea, while remaining in international waters.
– “Territorial invasion” –
According to the South Korean military, it was the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953 that a North Korean projectile had ended its course so close to southern territorial waters.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Wednesday that the shooting constituted “a de facto territorial invasion”. Authorities in the South have closed several air corridors over the Sea of Japan to “ensure the safety of passengers on routes to the United States and Japan”.
The North Korean army then carried out around 100 artillery fire near the inter-Korean border in the east of the peninsula. The South retaliated by launching three missiles at sea, near the area where one of the North’s projectiles had landed.
This show of force by Pyongyang comes at a time when South Korea and the United States are carrying out the largest air exercises in their history in the region.
The two allies decided Thursday to extend these exercises “in view of recent provocations from the North”, announced the South Korean army.
North Korea sees this type of exercise as a dress rehearsal for a future invasion of its territory or overthrow of its regime.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol during a National Security Council meeting on North Korea’s missile launch, in Seoul on November 2, 2022 (South Korean Presidential Office/Handout)
This exercise, dubbed “Vigilant Storm”, constitutes “an aggressive and provocative military maneuver targeting the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, said the North Korean regime, which threatened Seoul and Washington to “pay the most horrible price in history”.
The United States and South Korea have been warning for months that North Korea is preparing to carry out a nuclear test, which would be the seventh in its history and the first in five years.
– Future nuclear test? –
Television screens show a program dedicated to North Korean missiles, on November 3, 2022 in Seoul (AFP / Jung Yeon-je)
At the end of September, Kim Jong Un’s regime adopted a new doctrine proclaiming the “irreversible” nature of the country’s nuclear power status, making any future talks about its denuclearization impossible, and reserving the right to carry out preventive strikes.
This proclamation was followed, in September and October, by a long series of missile tests, presented by Pyongyang as “tactical nuclear” simulations.
The recent series of firings “are preliminary celebrations for their future nuclear test”, predicted Ahn Chan-il, a researcher specializing in North Korea. “It also looks like a series of practical tests for their tactical nuclear deployment,” he told AFP.
North Korea broke its self-imposed 2017 moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missile testing last March, but has since suffered several setbacks.
Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on April 26, 2022 (KCNA VIA KNS/STR)
Also in March, a Hwasong-17, considered the most powerful ICBM developed by Pyongyang to date, apparently exploded shortly after launch and a fireball was seen in the sky above the northern capital. Korean. And last May, the South Korean military also reported an ICBM launch failure.