North Korea fires missile after plane flies over South Korean border | Conflict News

Seoul is imposing new sanctions amid heightened tension after a record number of weapons tests by North Korea this year.

North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile towards its eastern waters after flying fighter jets near the border with South Korea, further heightening tension on the peninsula following its wave without precedent of weapons testing this year.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that the missile was launched from the area around Pyongyang at 01:49 a.m. Friday (1649 GMT Thursday).

It came hours after South Korea scrambled F-35 fighter jets and other planes when a dozen North Korean warplanes were spotted 12 km (7 miles) away. the border, the JCS said.

A similar incident occurred last week, but this time the planes crossed an established “reconnaissance line” in Seoul, triggering an automatic operational response.

South Korea’s National Security Council condemned North Korea for escalating tensions, calling its moves a violation of a 2018 bilateral military pact that prohibits “hostile acts” in the border area.

Seoul imposed its first unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang in nearly five years, blacklisting 15 North Korean individuals and 16 institutions involved in missile development.

North Korea carried out a record number of weapons launches in 2022 and leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of tactical nuclear weapons a priority.

North Korea has carried out a record number of weapons tests this year as it worries about testing its first nuclear weapon since 2017 [File: KCNA via Reuters]

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada condemned the latest weapons test and said the missile flew on an “irregular” trajectory – a possible reference to describe the KN-23, which is modeled on the Russian missile Iskander.

“Regardless of intentions, North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches are absolutely unacceptable and we cannot overlook its substantial advances in missile technology,” Hamada said. “North Korea’s series of actions pose a threat to Japan, as well as to the region and the international community, and are absolutely intolerable.”

“Tactical nuclear” exercises

On Friday, North Korea’s military said its latest actions were in response to a “provocative” South Korean artillery exercise near the border.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency quoted its military as saying it had taken “strong military countermeasures” after the South Korean artillery fire.

The Korean People’s Army “sends a stern warning to the South Korean military, inciting military tension in the frontline area through reckless actions,” a statement said.

With denuclearization talks long stalled and the Ukraine-related standoff at the United Nations blocking any possibility of further sanctions, Kim has stepped up efforts to develop and test his banned nuclear arsenal.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have been warning for months that Pyongyang is ready to carry out another nuclear test – which would be the country’s seventh and first in five years.

The missile launched on Friday traveled up to 650 km (404 miles) at a maximum altitude of 50 km (31 miles) before landing in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

On Thursday, North Korea said it tested two long-range cruise missiles, which fly at lower altitudes than ballistic missiles, making them harder to detect and intercept. Pyongyang is not technically banned by the UN from testing cruise missiles, but all ballistic missile launches violate sanctions.

Pyongyang said the missile launches were “tactical nuclear” exercises that had been overseen by Kim and were a response to joint US-South Korean naval drills.

The tests over the past two weeks were mock nuclear attacks against key South Korean and US targets, North Korea said, adding that they were meant to warn Seoul and Washington about their drills. The tests included a new intermediate-range missile that he flew over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean, the first such test in five years.

The launches are seen as an attempt by Kim to pressure his rivals into accepting his country as a legitimate nuclear state and lifting crippling economic sanctions.

Kim expressed “great satisfaction” with the recent tests, which he said showed the country’s nuclear combat forces were “fully prepared for real war,” KCNA reported.

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