(CTN NEWS) – Tuesday, a day after the United States and South Korea started military exercises that Pyongyang views as a practice for an invasion, North Korea conducted two short-range ballistic missile tests as part of another show of force.
The missiles launched from the southwestern coastal town of Jangyon traveled across North Korea before falling in the sea off that country’s east coast, South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Service said in a statement.
It claimed that each missile had traveled 620 kilometers (385 miles).
According to reported flight distances, the missiles appear to be aimed for South Korea, home to around 28,000 American troops.
The military of South Korea referred to the launches as “a grave provocation” that jeopardizes regional peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The American Indo-Pacific Command declared that its partners were not immediately in danger from the launches on Tuesday.
It also stated that the United States’ security commitment to South Korea and Japan remains “ironclad” and that the North’s recent tests demonstrate the “destabilizing consequences” of its illegal weapons programs.
According to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, there have been no early reports of damage in Japanese waters, but officials are still gathering information about the North Korean launches.
Pyongyang may intensify its weapons testing in the upcoming days in retaliation for the allied military exercises scheduled to last through March 23.
The leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, ordered his forces this week to be prepared to fend off what he described as the “frantic war preparedness measures” of his country’s adversaries.
When North Korea test-fired more than 70 missiles last year, many nuclear-capable weapons, and publicly threatened to use them in future confrontations with the United States and South Korea, concerns about its nuclear programme rose considerably.
To maximize its leverage in future negotiations with the United States, North Korea looks to be taking advantage of the long-stalled talks with the United States and the growing U.S.-South Korean drills.
The United States is attempting to strengthen its relationships with South Korea and Japan in response to North Korean threats and China’s rising assertiveness.
But, other observers believe that a more consolidated Washington-Seoul-Tokyo partnership may encourage Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow to improve their trilateral relations.
Amid separate conflicts with the United States, China and Russia have repeatedly thwarted attempts by the United States and its allies to impose more stringent U.N. sanctions on North Korea.
The North conducted its second weapons test this week with Tuesday’s missiles. North Korea announced on Monday that it had tested two cruise missiles from a submarine the day before.
Even though foreign analysts disagree on whether North Korea has operational nuclear-armed missiles, it was claimed that cruise missiles were being built to carry nuclear warheads.
That would be a worrying development if North Korea acquired submarine-launched missile weapons since launches would be more difficult to detect and allow the North to conduct a second attack in retaliation.
But, experts claim that for the heavily sanctioned country to develop a fleet of submarines that could travel covertly and consistently carry out operations, it would take years, significant resources, and significant technological advancements.
According to Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser for the United States, North Korea has been improving its submarine-launch capabilities since its initial test in 2016.
The United States analyzes Sunday’s launches to determine what they indicate about the North’s capabilities.
Sullivan added, “But of course, we’re not going to let any actions North Korea takes dissuade us or prevent us from taking the actions that we feel are essential to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The joint exercises between the United States and South Korea that began on Monday involve field drills and computer simulations of North Korean aggression and other security scenarios.
According to South Korean defense officials, the field exercises would revert to the size of the greatest springtime exercises for the allies that were last staged in 2018.
While North Korean nuclear threats have increased since last year, the two nations have increased military drills.
The U.S.-South Korea drills will go on as scheduled, according to Jeon Ha Gyu, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson, regardless of whether North Korea “tries to disrupt them with provocations like missile launches.”
Ned Price, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that the United States has made it clear that it has no aggressive intentions towards North Korea and that the ongoing training exercises between the allies are “purely defensive in character.”
The top South Korean and American nuclear envoys underscored in their phone conversations on Monday that North Korea will suffer unspecified repercussions for its provocations.
According to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, they also pleaded with North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and focus instead on providing for the needs of its citizens.
They claimed that the country’s long-standing obsession with nuclear weapons has contributed to its current economic hardships and food shortage.
Later this week, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will visit Tokyo for a summit with Kishida, where the North Korean threat is expected to be a significant focus.
Their next conference demonstrates how, after years of tensions resulting from Japan’s colonial dominance over the Korean Peninsula until the end of World War II, a shared concern for security is bringing Seoul and Tokyo closer together.
RELATED CTN NEWS: