August 31, 2023
SEOUL – North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the waters off its east coast late Wednesday night in an apparent protest against the ongoing regular military exercises conducted by South Korea and the US.
The two short-range ballistic missiles were launched from the area of Sunan district in the capital city of Pyongyang between 11:40 p.m. and 11:50 p.m., according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The missiles flew around 360 kilometers before splashing down in the East Sea, the JCS said, adding that South Korean and US intelligence agencies are conducting a comprehensive and meticulous analysis of the launched missiles’ specifications.
“Our military will diligently conduct the ongoing Ulchi Freedom Shield exercise along with the associated combined field training exercises, all under a robust combined defense posture,” the JCS said.
“We will maintain a firm readiness posture, founded on the capacity to overwhelmingly respond to any provocation, while closely monitoring North Korea’s intentions and any additional signs of (provocations), as well as related activities.”
The missile launches occurred hours after the US dispatched B-1B strategic bombers separately to conduct joint aerial drills with South Korea and Japan on the same day.
The South Korean Air Force’s FA-50 fighter jets engaged in an air combat exercise alongside the US Air Force’s B-1B Lancer bomber aircraft and F-16 fighter jets over the Yellow Sea on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
The aerial drill was associated with Ulchi Freedom Shield, an 11-day joint exercise involving combined and interagency participation by the allies, scheduled to continue until Thursday. Pyongyang has criticized the routine and defense-oriented exercises conducted by the allies as “rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea.”
The Defense Ministry said the air exercise was conducted as a response to North Korea’s failed second attempt to launch what it claimed to be a military reconnaissance satellite on Aug. 24. The drill, therefore, “demonstrated extended deterrence in action and a robust combined defense posture by deploying US strategic assets in a timely and coordinated manner.”
The JCS early Thursday pointed out that the sequential firing of ballistic missiles subsequent to North Korea’s claimed launch of a space vehicle “represents a notably provocative action that undermines peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community.”
The ballistic missile launches by North Korea are unequivocally unlawful actions, openly violating UN Security Council resolutions that explicitly prohibit launches utilizing ballistic missile technology.