N Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of US-S Korea drills | Military News

Japan condemns the ‘unprecedented speed’ of North Korea’s missile launches, making an official protest through its embassy in Beijing.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile towards its east sea, before planned military exercises of the United States and Korea.

The South’s military said Sunday’s weapons test involved a short-range ballistic missile, which was fired from near the Taechon area of ​​North Pyongyan province just before 7 a.m. (22 GMT on Saturday).

It did not immediately give more specific details about the weapon, including what type of missile or how far it flew.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan estimated it reached a maximum altitude of 50 kilometers (31 miles) and may have followed an unusual trajectory.

Hamada said it fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of maritime or air traffic problems.

Many of the short-range missiles North Korea has tested in recent years, experts say, are designed to evade missile defense systems by maneuvering while in flight and in lower orbit. Knocked down”.

“If you include cruise missile launches, this is the 19th launch, which is an unprecedented speed,” Hamada said. “North Korea’s actions represent a threat to the peace and security of our country, the region, and the international community, and to do this during the invasion of Ukraine is unforgivable.”

He added that Japan sent a protest through North Korea’s embassy in Beijing.

The launch comes after the nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea for a joint exercise with South Korean forces, and ahead of a scheduled visit to Seoul this week by the South Korean military. US Vice President Kamala Harris.

It was North Korea’s first such launch after firing eight short-range ballistic missiles in a single day in early June, prompting the US to call for more sanctions for violating Council resolutions. United Nations Security.

North Korea dismisses United Nations resolutions as an infringement on its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and criticizes previous joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea as evidence of their hostile policies.

The drills have also been criticized by Russia and China, which have called on all sides not to take steps to increase tensions in the region and called for sanctions relief.

After North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests earlier this year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017, the United States and South Korea said they would step up their strikes. joint drills and show of military might to deter Pyongyang.

“Defense drills will not prevent North Korea’s missile tests,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international affairs at Ewha University in Seoul.

However, U.S.-ROK security cooperation helps deter a North Korean attack and resist Pyongyang’s coercion, and allies should not let provocations prevent them from conducting training and military exchanges necessary to maintain the alliance, he added.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Saturday that North Korea may also be preparing to test-fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), according to South Korean military sources.

Last week, a North Korea-focused think tank, 38North, also said Pyongyang may be preparing to launch a new submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles. The group says its analysis of commercial satellite images shows that many barges and other ships are concentrated in the eastern port of Sinpo, where the country has a large shipyard that builds submarines.

North Korea has been working to acquire the ability to fire nuclear-armed missiles from submarines, which it sees as an important part of building up a nuclear arsenal that can strengthen its deterrence because they will guarantee retaliation after a land-based nuclear strike.

Ballistic missile submarines would also add a new maritime threat to North Korea’s growing collection of solid fuel weapons fired from land vehicles, which are being developed with purpose. clearly overwhelm the missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan.

However, experts say that the heavily sanctioned country will need more time, resources and major technological improvements to build at least some submarines that can navigate the seas and perform reliable attacks.

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