July 12, 2023
SEOUL – North Korea fired one long-range ballistic missile eastward on Wednesday morning, after making repeated public threats of taking potential military actions against the United States’ routine aerial reconnaissance activities on the Korean Peninsula.
The intercontinental ballistic missile or ICBM was fired from the area of the capital city of Pyongyang toward the East Sea at around 10:00 a.m. local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, without further details.
“Our military is maintaining full readiness in close coordination with the US, while reinforcing monitoring and surveillance,” the JCS added.
The missile was fired following North Korea’s repeated warnings of possible military action in response to what they consider routine reconnaissance activities conducted by the United States on the Korean Peninsula.
The warnings were conveyed through three statements released on Monday and early Tuesday.
Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday warned in an English-language statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency that “the US forces will experience a very critical flight” in case of a repeated illegal intrusion.
Kim claimed that the US Air Force’s reconnaissance aircraft violated the airspace above the North Korean side’s exclusive economic zone in the East Sea of the Korean Peninsula.
But the South Korean military said the exclusive economic zone permits freedom of navigation and overflight, and simply flying in such areas does not constitute intrusion.
The missile launch occurred at a delicate moment, coinciding with the ongoing two-day NATO summit in Lithuania as well as the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and other regional meetings that kicked off in Jakarta on Tuesday.
The recent ballistic missile launch is the first since June 15, when North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles towards the East Sea. The June 15 launch was seen as a demonstration of opposition to the large-scale combined live-fire drills that were being conducted by South Korea and the United States in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province, near the inter-Korean border.