North Korea fires suspected ICBMs, Seoul says

North Korea fires suspected ICBMs, Seoul says


North Korea launched a suspected ICBM on Friday, Seoul’s military said, the second launch in two days, while Pyongyang continues a record-breaking lightning strike that has fueled fears of a nuclear test.

A South Korean defense official told AFP that they “estimated that North Korea launched an ICBM” without giving further details.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff previously said it spotted the “eastbound launch of an unidentified ballistic missile.”

Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with Japan’s Defense Ministry saying Pyongyang fired “a suspected ballistic missile” as the Coast Guard warned ships not to approach fallen debris in the water.

The launch comes a day after North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile when its foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, warned Pyongyang that Pyongyang would take “tougher” military action if the United States stepped up its commitment to “enhanced deterrence” against regional allies.

In response to mounting provocations from the nuclear-armed North, which sees all these moves as evidence of US aggression, Washington is attempting to strengthen regional security cooperation and intensify joint military exercises.

US President Joe Biden earlier this week discussed North Korea’s recent missile tests with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, and also spoke with leaders from Tokyo and Seoul amid mounting fears that the reclusive regime will soon conduct its seventh nuclear test.

North Korea was also high on the agenda as leaders of China and Japan held their first face-to-face talks in three years on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC) in Bangkok on Thursday.

Experts said the launch of one of North Korea’s most powerful weapons was a clear sign that leader Kim Jong Un was unhappy about recent talks.

“Well, it’s estimated that it’s an ICBM, if that’s the case then it sends a clear message to the US and Japan,” said Han Kwon-hee, manager of the Missile Strategy Forum.

– Repeated starts –

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted a series of launches, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that Seoul said at the time had failed.

Pyongyang also fired a short-range ballistic missile that effectively crossed the maritime border between the two countries and landed near southern territorial waters for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

President Yoon said at the time it was “effectively a territorial invasion”.

Both launches were part of a Nov. 2 barrage in which Pyongyang fired 23 missiles — more than all of 2017, the year of “fire and fury” when Kim spoke to then-US President Donald Trump on Twitter and in the state Barb swapped media.

Experts say North Korea is jumping at the opportunity to conduct banned missile tests and is confident of avoiding further UN sanctions over Ukraine-linked UN deadlock.

China, Pyongyang’s main diplomatic and economic ally, joined Russia in May in vetoing a US-led proposal at the UN Security Council to tighten sanctions on North Korea.

Washington has responded to North Korea’s sanctions-breaking missile tests by extending drills with South Korea and deploying a strategic bomber.

Pyongyang has also been under a self-imposed coronavirus lockdown since early 2020, which experts say would limit the impact of additional external sanctions.

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