A new event comes to feed this Tuesday the tensions between the two Koreasthe day after the launch of the most important joint maneuvers between Seoul and Washington since five years. “Our army detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired (…) between 07:41 (22:41 GMT) and 07:51” which flew over a distance of approximately 620 km, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
“Our armed forces have increased their surveillance and vigilance in anticipation of other launches, while standing ready to intervene within the framework of close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” he said. added.
Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said the missiles did not land in Japanese waters. Tokyo suspects North Korea of wanting to engage in “new provocations”.
On Sunday, Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles from a submarine, on the eve of the start of joint exercises between Seoul and Washington dubbed “Freedom Shield”, which should last at least ten days and focus on “the evolution of the “security environment” due to North Korea’s redoubled aggressiveness, the allies said.
Pyongyang claimed that the launch was aimed at testing its “nuclear deterrents in different spaces”, while criticizing the exercises between the two allies. These maneuvers, intended according to the two allies to fight against the growing threats from Pyongyang, arouse the ire of North Korea. She views them as dress rehearsals for an invasion of her territory and regularly promises “crushing” action in response to them.
The South Korean military said the drills would involve “wartime procedures to repel potential North Korean attacks and conduct a stabilization campaign in the North.”
“Shows of Strength”
In 2022, Pyongyang called its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” and conducted a record number of ballistic tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Last week, leader Kim Jong Un ordered his army to step up military maneuvers for a “real war”. If Pyongyang systematically justifies its missile tests by pointing the finger at military exercises in the South, it is also to serve a national objective, argues Leif-Éric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“A lot of it is about the Kim regime not appearing weak as it struggles economically at home and as South Korea manages to build up its conventional firepower and partnerships in security,” he said. “As a result, we can expect further shows of force from Pyongyang.”
More shots expected
Washington has repeatedly reaffirmed its “unwavering” commitment to defending South Korea using “the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear.”
For its part, South Korea wants to appease a public that seems worried about the United States’ commitment to so-called extended deterrence, which wants Washington’s military means, including nuclear weapons, to be used to prevent attacks against his allies.
Thus, Washington and Seoul carried out joint aerial exercises last week with a nuclear-capable American B-52 heavy bomber. Analysts have previously said North Korea would likely use the maneuvers as a pretext to launch more missiles or even a nuclear test.
“Further missile launches, with variations in style and range, or even a nuclear test are to be expected. Further acts of intimidation from North Korea should come as no surprise,” said Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean army general.