The North has test-fired more than 30 missiles and flew large numbers of warplanes in anger over a combined aerial exercise between the United States and South Korea
The North has test-fired more than 30 missiles this week, including an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday that triggered evacuation alerts in northern Japan, and flew large numbers of warplanes inside its territory in an angry reaction to a massive combined aerial exercise between the United States and South Korea.
The missile traveled a distance of 2,856 miles, with an altitude of 1,000 kilometers, and achieved a top speed of Mach 17 and a speed that was 17 times the speed of sound.
According to a South Korean government source, the Hwasong 17 was the most advanced intercontinental missile tested by North Korea on March 24.
“North Korea is going to keep conducting missile tests until the current round of modernization is done. Lewis thinks a nuclear test explosion is not far away.
This kind of unannounced launch could pose risks to aircraft and ships as the missile travels down to its target, since they would have no prior warning to avoid the area.
And if the test had failed, causing the missile to fall short, it could have endangered major population areas. According to Hirokazu Matsuno, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, the missile flew over the Tohoku region.
In the past, US planes have been grounded as a ‘precaution’ following North Korean missile launches. And in late November 2017, several commercial jet pilots were reported to have seen what appeared to be the re-entry of a North Korean missile as it approached the Sea of Japan.
Lewis said that it felt like a violation of the Japanese’s sovereignty. If Russia threw a missile over Florida, we would have to deal with it.
Robert Ward, senior fellow for Japanese Security Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, pointed to the multiple security threats faced by Japan, from an aggressive Russia to its north and China to its south.
North Korea’s missile launch: a challenge to South Korea, the United States and the region, and the importance of its efforts to strengthen alliances with Japan
Lewis said that until North Korea gets to a point of being satisfied with the weapons it has developed, it will likely continue to work on them.
Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, says that it is normal for North Korea to stop testing during the summer and resume in the fall.
Joseph Dempsey, research associate for defense and military analysis at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, added that Tuesday’s flight path could just make for a better test.
Kim commented on the North Korean tests of a multiple- launch rocket system that could put South Korea in its range, according to a report from the Korean Central News Agency.
North Korea has conducted a series of missile tests over the past few years, often with ominous threats of nuclear attacks against South Korea or the US, as it sees a range of scenarios that put its leadership under threat.
Following a call with the US president, the prime minister of Japan said that North Korea’s missile launch posed a “grave challenge to peace and stability of Japan, the region and the international community”.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, added that North Korea could be waiting until after China holds its Communist Party Congress in mid-October to “conduct an even more significant test.”
The test was seen as a direct challenge to South Korea’s effort to strengthen its alliance with the United States and improve ties with Japan, a former colonial ruler of Korea with longstanding historical disputes with Seoul. The missile was the longest ever flown by a North Korean missile, traveling about 2,800 miles.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo was closely communicating with Washington and Seoul over the launch, which he called “an act of violence that escalates provocation toward the international order.”
Whether North Korea has a functioning nuclear-tipped ICBM is still a source of outside debate, as some experts say the North hasn’t mastered a way to protect warheads from the severe conditions of atmospheric reentry. The North claims to have developed such a technology.
In the face of increasing nuclear threats from North Korea, the government has expanded regular military drills with the U.S. North Korea has called such drills between its rivals an invasion rehearsal and argued its recent missile tests were a response to them. Some experts say North Korea is using the South Korea- U.S. training to modernize its arsenal, and increase its leverage in future dealings with the U.S.
The US military said it was aware of the North Korean launch, which “does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies,” according to a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command.
“Such provocations, including drone incursions, appear excessive for deterrence and may be intended to scare South Korea into taking a softer policy. With Kim threatening to produce nuclear weapons and abandoning diplomacy, the Yoon administration is likely to increase South Korea’s defense capabilities and readiness.
Observers say Kim may use his country’s missile and nuclear tests to pressure the U.S. and other countries into lifting international sanctions placed on North Korea.
A Joint Response to North Korea’s Launch of the Suspected ICBM, a Possible Nuclear Test, and a Threat to the Peace and Stability of South Korea
On Tuesday, the US and Japan also conducted a joint response to the North Korean launch, with US Marine Corps and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets flying over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
The suspected ICBM was launched from the west coast of North Korea at around 7:39 a.m. local time, and flew about 750 kilometers (466 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, east of the Korean Peninsula, Japan’s Defense Ministry said.
The statement said four missiles were used in Wednesday’s launch. Missiles known as Army Tactical Missile Systems can fly around 200 miles.
“This is not the first time we’ve done this in response to provocations by the North to make sure that we can demonstrate our own capabilities,” Kirby told CNN’s Pamela Brown on the “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
There is no realistic plan to bring NorthKorea to the negotiating table at this point in time.
International leaders are now watching for signs of a further escalation such as a potential nuclear test, which would be the hermit nation’s first in nearly five years – a move that would present US President Joe Biden with a new potential foreign policy crisis.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, pushing North Korea further into isolation. Foreign diplomats and aid workers fled the country as its borders were sealed. The number of missile launches remained low during this time, with four in 2020 and eight in 2021.
First, it could simply be the right time after the events of the last few years, with Kim declaring victory against Covid in August, and a new US administration in place that has focused on shows of unity with South Korea.
“North Korean engineers and generals will want to make sure their toys work well, because they have been unable to test them for quite a few years due to political considerations,” said Andrei Lanchev, a professor at the University of South Korea.
The world should not ignore them, they exist and their engineers are working around theclock to develop nuclear weapons and delivery systems.
In a statement Thursday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Pyongyang’s repeated launches “of ballistic missiles are a serious provocation that harms the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula but also the international community.”
According to a CNN count, this year has seen 26 missile tests by the Kim regime, though analysts cautioned that the KCNA reports should be treated with caution because previous reports had overstated the success of such launches.
He added that Kim’s weapons testing bolsters his own image domestically and helps solidify his power, apart from making a statement to the international community.
The military response of the US and its allies this past week is not going to stop North Korea from conducting its weapons tests, according to experts.
In response to recent naval drills between the U.S. and South Korean forces, a new series of missile tests were carried out.
North Korea’s nuclear missile launches have caused a stir in the United States and its relations with China, and an apparent threat to the United Nations
The lack of technology used in the North to facilitate economic and societal advances, as well as to provide critical windows and opportunities to glean intel on US and its allies, is not good for the intelligence services of the US and its allies.
“Since so much of what North Korea does is driven by the leader himself, you really have to get inside his head, and that’s a hard intelligence problem,” said Chris Johnstone, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s unprecedented missile launch, telling CNN the UN would be “putting pressure” on China and Russia to improve and enhance such sanctions.
The law also demonstrated North Korea’s hopes of strengthening its ties with China and Russia, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
An Army Tactical Missile System is fired during a joint training session between the United States and South Korea, on October 5 at an undisclosed location.
The last time North Korea made a mention of a missile launch was in March.
The most important event on the Chinese political calendar this year is the meeting of the party elite which is expected to re-elect China’s leader,Xi Jinping, to a third term in power.
Kim “depends too much on Chinese aid to keep his country afloat,” meaning he can’t afford to “do anything to detract from the Party Congress,” said Schuster. Even though China can’t dictate to him what he must do, he will not cause them problems.
A statement released on the birthday of the Workers’ Party of the People’s Republic of North Korea is seen as an attempt to burnish Kim’s image as a strong leader at home while he’s still trying to wrest greater concessions from his enemies.
“Our nuclear combat forces … proved again their full preparedness for actual war to bring the enemies under their control,” Kim said in a report by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
North Korea objected to those drills in statements issued this week before it fired off a flurry of missiles on Wednesday and Thursday.
In March, South Korea conducted its first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket, and defense officials said Friday’s launch was a follow-up test to the earlier launch. Friday’s unannounced launch triggered a brief public scare of a UFO appearance or a North Korean missile firing in South Korea.
The North launched a missile from a submarine, the first of its kind, but it hadn’t previously done so in public.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in South Korea, said that North Korea likely wants to make it very difficult for its enemies to detect its rocket launches in advance and conduct pre-emptive strikes.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, when the missile was launched and flew over the target, North Korean authorities confirmed the reliability of the explosion of the warhead.
North Korea released a slew of photos on the launches. One of them showed Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju, both wearing ochre field jackets, frowning while covering their ears. Some observers say the image indicated Ri’s elevated political standing because it was likely the first time for her to observe a weapons launch with her husband.
Kim Yo Jong said that the US and South Korea had shown their dangerous greed and were trying to gain control of the Korean Peninsula.
Military Exercises in South Korea, Japan, and the US Navy: “We are preparing for war”, said KCNA Chief Adm. Michael Donnelly
I think this is notable, because the units that launch the missiles are not framed as the tests of the missiles themselves. Lewis said that it indicates that these systems are deployed.
Camp Humphreys is the largest US military post outside of the United States and it has a population of more than 35,000 service, civilian, contractors and family members.
North Korea had multiple motives for making an announcement on Monday, according to a professor at Ewha Womans University.
“Most of the missiles they’ve launched this year are parts of military exercises. They are rehearsing for nuclear war. And that, I think, is the big picture this year,” Panda said.
“The KCNA report may also be harbinger of a forthcoming nuclear test for the kind of tactical warhead that would arm the units Kim visited in the field,” he said.
Kim further emphasized that Pyongyang will thoroughly monitor enemies’ military movements and “strongly take all military countermeasures” if needed, KCNA stated.
A US Navy aircraft carrier strike group participated in several days of bilateral and trilateral exercises with South Korean and Japanese units that ended Saturday, a statement from the US Navy’s Task Force 70 said.
“Our commitment to regional security and the defense of our allies and partners is demonstrated by our flexibility and adaptability to move this strike group to where it is needed,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander of Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5.
The security environment around Japan was getting more dangerous, and the Joint Staff said they were training with the US Navy to respond to threats.
High-energy missile flights from the South Korea border violates the September 19 military agreement and the U.S.-South Korean air force training program
The report claimed the missiles flew for more than three hours above the sea before hitting their target.
According to a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University, details of the reports cannot be trusted. It is not uncommon for the Kim regime to be surprisingly transparent about weapons development goals.
Kim, the professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said that if current strengths are exaggerated, the program is still progressing.
A cruise missile is powered by a jet engine and can be maneuverable with control surfaces similar to an airplane.
A missile with a nuclear warhead that can hit the United States would require a smaller cruise missile than one that could hit the mainland.
He said policymakers in the three countries should not allow domestic politics or other challenges to stop them from increasing international coordination on military and economic sanctions.
The tensions between the two Koreas have increased since early last week, when South Korea accused North Korea of flying drones over their border for the first time in five years and sent its own drones toward the North.
About 80 military aircraft were scrambled by the South Korean army on Friday after tracking flights by North Korean warplanes. The Joint chiefs of staff said the warplanes from the North Korean regime were detected in various places in the country, but not in close proximity to the border. The South Korean military spotted about 180 flight trails from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but it wasn’t immediately clear how many North Korean planes were involved and whether some may have flown more than once.
“Artillery firing in the maritime buffer zones is a clear violation of the September 19 military agreement, and the launch of short-range ballistic missiles is also a violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” the JCS said.
The sanctions target 15 individuals who “contributed to bringing supplies related to the funding of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and missile development,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a news release.
It was the highest number of North Korean short-range missiles fired in a single day, and included a ballistic missile that landed close to South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the division of Korea, according to the JCS.
Next week, South Korea is set to conduct a large-scale joint air force training with the US involving the US’ F-35B stealth jet, according to the South Korean Air Force.
The U.S. Response to North Korea’s “Vigilant Storm” Joint Exercises, with an Addendum to “Shock and Fireball Propagation in the South”
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said “everybody is holding its breath about” a potential North Korean nuclear test, which could provide further “confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead in a way that is incredibly concerning.”
We are following this very closely. IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi said he hopes it doesn’t happen but that indications go in a different direction.
The joint exercises, named “Vigilant Storm,” began on Monday and involve 240 aircraft and “thousands of service members” from both countries, according to the US Defense Department.
The projectiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, have triggered alerts, prompting some residents to seek shelter in two countries — South Korea and Japan — on both days.
It could, at least theoretically, put the entire US mainland in range of a North Korean nuclear warhead, but there’s a lot of unknowns about the missile’s capability to deliver a nuclear payload on target.
It followed that early Sunday with another test. Saturday’s and Sunday’s test were of a 600mm multiple-launch rocket system. Most multiple-rocket launch systems in service around the world are around 300mm in size.
The region where the North Korean missile fell, has many fishing boats that catch squid, suggesting that it could endanger the lives of people in South Korea.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the participation of the B-1Bs in the joint drills demonstrated the allies’ readiness to “sternly respond” to North Korean provocations and the U.S. commitment to defend its ally with the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear.
The warplanes and helicopter that South Korea’s military scrambled on Monday couldn’t shoot down any of the drones from North Korea. One of the North Korean drones traveled as far as northern Seoul. That caused security jitters among many people in the South, for which the military offered a rare public apology Tuesday.
We have said before that these types of activities are potentially destabilizing to the region. Austin said that they should cease that type of activity and begin to engage in serious dialogue.
The Security Council is expected to meet on Friday to discuss the recent launches of missiles by North Korea. According to a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN, the US, UK, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway had called for an open meeting.
In an interview on CNN on Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s actions, saying Pyongyang had broken multiple Security Council resolutions.
Thomas-Greenfield said the UN would be “putting pressure” on China and Russia to improve and enhance such sanctions. She declined to say whether US President Joe Biden would raise sanctions with China’s President Xi at the G20 but said it was “on the President’s mind.”
U.S. Repulsive South Korea Against North Korea’s Violations of the “Ballistic B-1B” Regime
North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range. The North has continued to describe the B-1B as a “nuclear strategic bomber” although the plane was switched to conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s.
Vigilant Storm had been initially scheduled to end Friday, but the allies decided to extend the training to Saturday in response to a series of North Korean ballistic launches on Thursday, including an ICBM that triggered evacuation alerts and halted trains in northern Japan.
South Korea still flew three of its surveillance drones across the border on Monday in an unusual tit-for-tat step against a North Korean provocation. South Korea on Thursday staged large-scale military drills to simulate shooting down drones.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has called for boosting his country’s air defense network and vowed to sternly deal with provocations by North Korea.
South Korea launched a solid-fueled rocket that will be used to put its first spy satellite into space in the coming years.
South Korea currently has no military reconnaissance satellites of its own and depends on U.S. spy satellites to monitor strategic facilities in North Korea.
Some South Korean experts said the North Korean satellite imagery was too crude for military reconnaissance purposes and that they are likely a disguised test of North Korea’s missile technology. Infuriated over such an assessment, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued crude insults against unidentified South Korean experts. She also dismissed some outside doubts over North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile technology and threatened to conduct a full-range, standard-trajectory ICBM test.
Pyongyang’s First Space Force Mission: Implications for the Security of the Korean Peninsula, Asked by Kim Jong Un
In an indication that the plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party was being wrapped up, the North’s state media reported Saturday that its powerful Politburo decided to complete the draft resolution of the plenary meeting.
Some observers said North Korea will likely publish details of the meeting on Sunday, which would carry Kim Jong Un’s vows to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce sophisticated weapons in the name of dealing with what he calls U.S. hostility.
Kim said during his address to the session that the 600mm MRL was first introduced three years ago and production has been increased since late October of 2022, according to KCNA. He said that the 600mm MRL will be deployed to the military at the same time.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said Pyongyang has used the past year to demonstrate its ability to perform a range of military strikes.
Seoul’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced last month it will spend more than $2.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen the mission capabilities and survivability of its fleet of F-15K fighters, jets that would play a key role in any possible strikes on North Korea.
Washington isn’t standing still. As well as deploying assets like F-22 fighters and B-1 bombers to the exercises around the Korean Peninsula, the US military recently activated its first Space Force command on foreign soil in South Korea, with the unit’s new commander saying he is ready to face any threat in the region.
The new unit “will be tasked with coordinating space operations and services such as missile warning, position navigation and timing and satellite communications within the region,” according to US Forces Korea.
Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told CNN in mid-December that Pyongyang has emerged as a missile power.
Kim’s New Year’s resolution list seems like an ambitious, but possibly doable, idea, said a security analyst with the RAND Corporation. “It’s ambitious in that Kim consciously chose to spell out what he hopes to accomplish as we head into 2023, but it also suggests a dose of confidence on Kim’s part.”
South Korea’s president told military officers that the security situation in the country is very grave. “We must not allow ourselves to be taken for a ride by our enemy with a firm determination that we dare to fight a battle.”
Panda said the reference to a new ICBM appears to concern a solid-propellant system, which could be tested soon. He said there could be a satellite launch in April, which coincides with a key state anniversary.
The details were similar to North Korea’s Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile test flight in November, which experts said demonstrated potential to reach the U.S. mainland if fired on a normal trajectory.
The White house national security council said that the launch has the potential to escalate tensions and endanger the security in the region.
Despite limited resources, his country continued to expand their military capabilities despite a stalemate with Washington.
Those missiles included a new system experts say is possibly linked to the North’s stated desire to acquire a solid-fuel ICBM. North Korea’s existing ICBMs, including Hwasong-17s, use liquid propellants that require pre-launch injections and cannot remain fueled for prolonged periods. It takes less time to prepare and is easier to move around on vehicles with a solid fuel alternative.
South Korea and the U.S. will also hold a one-day tabletop exercise next week at the Pentagon to sharpen a response to a potential use of nuclear weapons by North Korea.
Japan adopted a new national security strategy in December that included provable strikes to counter threats from North Korea, as well as China and Russia.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said its launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM was organized “suddenly” without prior notice at Kim’s direct order.
The Hwasong-15 launch demonstrated the North’s “powerful physical nuclear deterrent and its efforts to turn its capacity of fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces into an extremely strong one that cannot be countered,” according to the Korean Central News Agency.
“I warn that we will watch every movement of the enemy and take corresponding and very powerful and overwhelming counteraction against its every move hostile to us,” she said.
South Korean Foreign Ministers Rejoind on the Issue of Forcing Korean Workers in the Context of a Security Conference in Germany
The foreign ministers of South Korean and Japan met on Saturday on the sideline of a security conference in Germany, and agreed to increase trilateral cooperation with the United States, but they still differed on the issue of forced Korean laborers.