SEOUL, South Korea - The U.S. military launched eight missiles into the ocean Monday as a show force that matched a North Korean missile display one day earlier. This extended a provocation streak in weapons demonstrations.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the live-fire exercise by allies involved eight Army Tactical Missile System (ATMS) missiles being fired into South Korea’s eastern waters over a period of 10 minutes. The drill was intended to demonstrate an ability to quickly and accurately respond to North Korean attacks.
The South's military observed that North Korea fired eight short-range missiles in 35 minutes over four locations. This was a record-setting single-day for country's ballistic launch records.
This was North Korea's 18th round in missile tests in 2022, which included its first launch of intercontinental missiles in almost five years. Officials in the United States and South Korea also claim that North Korea is planning to conduct its first nuclear testing since September 2017. This is because Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, pushes for a brinkmanship which aims at establishing the North as a nuclear power and negotiating security and economic concessions from a position where they are strong.
Following North Korea's earlier ballistic launches on May 25th, the U.S. and South Korean forces held a similar live fire drill. South Korea's military claimed that it involved an ICBM flying on a medium-range trajectory with two short-range weapons and one ICBM. These tests were part of Biden's trip to South Korea, Japan and Japan. He affirmed America's commitment to protect both allies.
The launches of Sunday have not been reported by the North Korean state media. The launches came just after the U.S.-based aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan completed a three day naval drill in the Philippine Sea on Saturday. This was apparently their first joint drill in that area since November 2017. As the two countries seek to improve their defense exercises against North Korean threats,
North Korea has always condemned the combined military exercises of its allies as invasion rehearsals. It often countered these drills with its own missile drills. In 2016, and 2017, short-range launches were used to simulate nuclear attacks on South Korean ports.
Japan's Defense Ministry stated that the United States and Japan conducted a joint missile test within hours of the North Korean launch. This exercise was meant to demonstrate their "rapid reaction capability" and "strong determination” to counter threats.
The United States has pledged to press for international sanctions in the event of North Korea's nuclear test. However, the prospects for effective new punitive measures are slim with the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members split.
Russia and China vetoed the U.S. sponsored resolution, which would have placed additional sanctions on North Korea for its recent ballistic test on May 25. They argued that Washington should focus on restarting negotiations with Pyongyang.
These talks are currently in limbo since 2019, due to disagreements over exchanging crippling U.S. sanctions for North's disarmament actions.
Kim is not willing to give up his arsenal, which he considers his best guarantee of survival, despite facing severe challenges at home, such as a declining economy and a COVID-19 epidemic.
Experts say that his government has rejected open-ended offers from the Biden administration and is determined to convert the dormant negotiations on denuclearization into a mutual arms reduction process.