(ATTN: UPDATES with more details in paragraphs 6, 10-12)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 01 (Yonhap) — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Saturday, the South Korean military said, in its fourth such provocation in less than a week. .
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they detected the launches from the Sunan area in Pyongyang between 6:45 a.m. and 7:03 a.m. and that the missiles traveled some 350 kilometers at peaks of about 30 km to maximum speeds of Mach 6.
The launches took place just hours before South Korea was to hold an event marking Armed Forces Day with its major military assets on display. The day before, the South, the United States and Japan held an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the East Sea.
“North Korea’s recent series of ballistic missiles is a significant provocative act that undermines peace not only on the Korean peninsula, but also in the international community, and a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions “, said the JCS in a text message. sent to reporters.
He added, “Our military will maintain a firm readiness posture while tracking and monitoring related movements in close cooperation with the United States in preparation against further provocations.”
The Presidential National Security Council convened a session of the standing committee and condemned the North’s latest launches.
JCS Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum and Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command, held virtual launch consultations.
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the North’s move “highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illegal WMD and ballistic missile programs.” He reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to the defense of its Northeast Asian allies. The DPRK is an acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and WMD stands for Weapon of Mass Destruction.
The latest launches followed earlier provocations on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Military authorities have been investigating the possibilities that recent North launches may have involved its KN-23, KN-24, the KN-25 super-wide multiple rocket launcher, or other short-range platforms.
The KN-23 and KN-24 are inspired by the Russian Iskander ballistic missile and the US Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) respectively. The KN-23 and KN-24 missiles are known for their “trailer” maneuvers to avoid interception.
Pyongyang’s short-range missile test firings have sparked speculation that it has doubled down on efforts to develop tactical nuclear weapons.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris paid a one-day visit to South Korea on Thursday, during which she met with President Yoon Suk-yeol and toured the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides Korea. While there, she said Washington would do “everything” to ensure its security commitment to the Asian ally.