What we know about the exchange of missile fire between North Korea, the United States and South Korea

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounces a “Escalation”. South Korea and the United States fired multiple missiles at targets at sea on Wednesday (October 5), a day after North Korea launched a ballistic missile that overflyed Japan. This year Pyongyangequipped with nuclear weapons has intensified its projects to modernize its armaments. The UN Security Council meets on Wednesday to this topic. Franceinfo takes stock.

A North Korean missile launch flies over Japan for the first time since 2017

He flew a distance of about 4,500 km at an altitude of 970 km. North Korea fired an Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) on Tuesday, October 4, overflying Japan. Tokyo confirmed the shooting, activated – unusually – a public alert system and asked residents of two northern regions of Japan to seek shelter if possible. The missile is a nuclear-capable Hwasong-12, according to experts and senior officials.

Pyongyang’s last missile launch over Japan was in 2017, at the height of the “fire and rage” period in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then-US President Donald Trump exchanged insults.

“This is an act of violence that follows the repeated launching of ballistic missiles in recent times. We condemn him in the strongest terms.”, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida responded. Seoul also called the shot a “Provocation” violate “clearly the universal principles and standards of the United Nations”.

South Korea and the United States are fighting back with missiles launched at sea

Washington promised an answer “robust” on this shot to confirm once again “tireless commitment” his country to its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea. South Korean and American warplanes conducted precision attack drills for the first time on Tuesday, during which two South Korean F-15K fighter jets dropped bombs on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea.

On Wednesday, the South Korean and US armies each fired two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles “to hit a virtual target accurately” in the Sea of ​​Japan. The goal, according to a press release by the South Korean general staff: show “that we are able and willing to neutralize the origin of the provocation while maintaining a position of constant surveillance”.

However, Seoul confirmed the failed launch of a fifth Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missile, which crashed to the ground shortly after launch. The missile warhead did not detonate and no one was injured, according to the Korean General Staff. But a major fire broke out in the city of Gangneung on South Korea’s east coast, sparking panic.

North Korea is upgrading its armaments

North Korea, under UN sanctions over its weapons programs, has pushed ahead with its modernization this year. Last week it fired four short-range ballistic missiles. Pyongyang generally tries to maximize the geopolitical impact of its processes by choosing the moment that suits it best.

“North Korea always starts with a low-level provocation and gradually raises the level to attract the attention of global media.advance to AFP Go Myong-hyun, researcher at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. By launching the missile over Japan, they show that their nuclear threat is not just directed at South Korea.” The shot that flew over Japan “could theoretically reach the island of Guam in the Pacific. An American island where the Navy has an extreme presence. This shot is therefore more of a message to the United States than to Japan.”confirmed on franceinfo Antoine Bondaz, director of the Korea program of the Strategic Research Foundation and teacher at Sciences Po.

“Over the past four years, the country has developed precision attack capabilities capable of breaching Korean and Japanese missile defenses. It is a desire of North Korea to change the balance of power in the region.”

Antoine Bondaz, North Korea specialist

at franceinfo

Leader Kim Jong-un prepares another nuclear test

South Korean and American officials have been warning for months that North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un is preparing for another nuclear test. This could come after the Chinese Communist Party congress, which begins Oct. 16, several senior officials from America’s Asia-Pacific Command reported this weekend.

“Despite today’s missile launch (…) North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test remains unchanged”Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP. “Pyongyang will likely poke fun at today’s rocket launch – especially since one of the launches failed”he added of the launches in South Korea and the US on Wednesday.

Pyongyang, which revised its legislation in September to make its status as a nuclear power “irreversible,” has tested nuclear bombs six times since 2006. The last and most powerful test came in 2017 with an estimated power of 250 kilotons. The fact that North Korea has a nuclear weapon is all the more concerning because, unlike other nuclear powers, the regime in Pyongyang does not consider these types of weapons a deterrent that will never be used.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits Pyongyang “resume the dialogue” To achieve “complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

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