Responding to North, South and U.S. fire eight missiles too
South Korea and the United States fired eight surface-to-surface missiles on Monday in response to North Korea's Sunday test of eight short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), according to defense officials in Seoul.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said South Korea and the United States fired a total of eight surface-to-surface MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (Atacms) missiles into the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula for about 10 minutes starting at 4:45 a.m.
“The joint surface-to-surface missile launches show North Korea that we have the capability and readiness to immediately strike the source of any provocation, as well as the local command and support centers, while maintaining a constant posture of vigilance,” the JCS said.
The United States Forces Korea (USFK) said in a statement Monday that the joint exercise involved one U.S. army missile and seven South Korean army missiles, and that the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea remains “ironclad.”
The eight Atacms missile launches represent a tit-for-tat response to the North’s firing of eight SRBMs into the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula on Sunday.
North Korea’s latest salvo of missiles was the regime’s 18th major weapons test this year and came a day after the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan concluded a three-day naval exercise with South Korea in the Philippine Sea.
The missiles launched by the North on Sunday were fired over a 35-minute period from four detected locations.
North Korean state media on Monday did not comment on the regime’s latest volley of missiles, counter to their usual custom of issuing reports on such tests a day after they take place.
The North was also silent after it fired three missiles on May 25, including a possible intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a day after U.S. President Joe Biden departed from Japan at the end of an Asia visit.
During Biden’s visit to Seoul, he and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to upgrade their countries’ joint defense exercises and increase the deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea in response to the growing threat from the North.
The allies also agreed to re-activate the bilateral high-level Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group (EDSCG) to hold in-depth discussions on strategic and policy issues regarding extended deterrence against North Korea, including how to better leverage the full breadth of the two countries’ national power, including diplomacy, information, military and economic capabilities.
Yoon said Monday the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs “threatened regional and world peace” and promised a “firm and stern response” to future provocations.
His warning came after Seoul’s Foreign Ministry promised on Wednesday to take “strong measures,” including new international sanctions, if Pyongyang proceeded with a new nuclear test.
In recent weeks, U.S. and South Korean intelligence officials have warned that satellite images of ongoing tunnel excavation and construction work at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear testing site in North Hamgyong Province suggest that the regime is preparing to conduct a seventh nuclear test.
The North has conducted six nuclear tests.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]