North Korea is turning into a prominent operator of large-scale missile forces: The Hiraku missile launch in Japan’s exclusive economic zone
The launch was North Korea’s first since Jan. 1, when it test-fired a short-range weapon. It followed a massive military parade in Pyongyang last week, where troops rolled out more than a dozen ICBMs as leader Kim Jong Un watched in delight from a balcony.
The missile was fired on a high angle, apparently to avoid the territories of the neighboring countries, and traveled about 900 kilometers (560 miles) during an hourlong flight.
The experts told CNN that the missile fired was likely the Hwasong-12, which was last tested in January.
“The bigger picture is that North Korea is literally turning into a prominent operator of large-scale missile forces,” Panda said. It’s no longer appropriate to speak about the most recent North Korean missile launches.
However, Lewis emphasized, such risks are statistically low, especially that far out in the Pacific and that high above Japan as it flew overhead. Mostly, it’s an escalation simply because “it’s provocative to fire a missile over your neighbor.”
No damage has been reported from the missile that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of Oshima island. Oshima lies off the western coast of the northernmost main island of Hokkaido.
In the past, US planes have been grounded as a ‘precaution’ following North Korean missile launches. Several commercial jet pilots were reported to see a North Korean missile re-entry into the ocean in late November of last year.
“For the Japanese especially, it feels like a violation of their sovereignty,” Lewis said. If Russia put a missile over Florida, we would have a fit.
Robert Ward is a senior fellow for Japanese Security Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies and pointed out multiple security threats faced by Japan from an aggressive Russia to its north and south.
South Korea and the North Koreans are prepared for “actual war,” Kim Jong Un reportedly told reporters at a high-energy nuclear missile launch
The North Koreans are not interested in talking. Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia Non-proliferation Project, said they were in the mood for testing and blowing things off.
Jeffrey Lewis said it is normal for North Korea to pause testing during the summer when there is bad weather.
The Tuesday flight path could just make for a better test, claimed Joseph Dempsey, the research associate for defense and military analysis.
CNN was previously told that Kim could be sending a message by showing off his nation’s arsenal during a heightened global conflict.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday warned adversaries his nuclear forces are fully prepared for “actual war,” a day after the isolated country’s latest launch in a recent flurry of missile tests.
“This is probably an appetizer for the main course, which is yet to come,” he added. When North Korea has more confidence in their ICBMs, they might fly one to full range over Japan.
The Workers’ Party conference in North Korea is to review past policies and set goals. Some experts say that during the meeting, North Korea will likely reiterate its plan to strengthen its nuclear and missile arsenals as a response to hostile policies in the US.
The test posed a challenge to South Korea’s efforts to strengthen relations with the US and improve ties with Japan, a country that has long had a strained relationship with the South. The missile flew about 2,800 miles and was the longest distance ever traveled by a North Korean missile.
The launches were called a grave provocation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. South Korea closely watches North Korean activity in coordination with the United States and is prepared to deter any provocation by North Korea.
Kim also expressed conviction that the nuclear combat forces of his military would maintain “their strongest nuclear response posture and further strengthen it in every way” to perform their duties of defending the North’s dignity and sovereign rights.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry officials told lawmakers earlier that Seoul and Washington will hold an annual computer-simulated combined training in mid-March. The 11-day training will reflect North Korea’s nuclear threats, as well as unspecified lessons from the Russia-Ukraine war, according to Heo Tae-keun, South Korea’s deputy minister of national defense policy. Heo said the countries will also conduct joint field exercises in mid-March that would be bigger than those held in the past few years.
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.
It looks like such provocations, including drones incursions, are intended to frighten South Korea into a softer policy and are excessive for deterrence. With Kim threatening mass production of nuclear weapons, the Yoon administration is likely to increase South Korea’s defense capabilities.
Schuster said that the regime is very paranoid and worried about regime change from the outside. With the tests, Kim, is telling his own senior people, “We can deal with whatever the threat the West, the US and South Korea can come up with,” he said.
Joint Response of the South Korean Air Self-Defense Force to Pyongyang’s Launch of High-Energy Reactor Missiles
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 missiles that flew towards the country’s western sea were fired from a western coastal area around noon.
The Joint Chiefs of South Korea said that the missiles were included in the Wednesday launch. Army Tactical Missile Systems are missiles that can fly around 200 miles.
According to John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, the launch was designed to demonstrate that the US and its allies have “the military capabilities at the ready to respond to provocations by the North.”
“There is simply no practical plan at this point, especially in the short term, to bring North Korea to the negotiating table and to pursue denuclearization.”
The aggressive acceleration in weapons testing has sparked alarm in the region, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit, pushing North Korea further into isolation. The already-impoverished country sealed its borders entirely, with foreign diplomats and aid workers fleeing en masse. During this time, the number of missile launches also remained low – just four in 2020 and eight in 2021.
First of all, it could be the right time after the events of last few years, with Kim declaring victory against Covid in August, and a new US administration focused on shows of unity with South Korea.
Ankit Panda, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Kim has likely decided that the country’s liquid propellant ICBM force has been thoroughly tested and evaluated to allow for regular exercises of this kind.
“They want to remind the world that they should not be ignored, that they exist and their engineers are working around the clock to develop both nuclear weapons and delivery systems,” said Lankov.
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.”
“(The missile tests) started in January, which is about the time we were beginning to report on what Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing opposite Ukraine,” said Schuster. “Kim Jong Un is doing what he thinks he can get away with – he’s not expecting any kind of strong US reaction.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukranian is believed to have boosted Kim’s confidence because it shows that you can have almost irreversible consequences if you have nuclear weapons. And if you don’t have nuclear weapons, you’re in trouble.”
The quick military response by the US and its allies has done little to stop North Korea from carrying out its weapons tests.
“The Americans sent the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier. South Koreans are launching these missiles, which are not necessarily working well,” said Lankov, referring to a South Korean missile on Wednesday that crashed right after launch. What is the impact of all these American aircraft carriers? It was pretty much nothing.
US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield Confronts North Korea with a High-profile Launch of a Tactical Missile System
The North lacks the widespread use of technology that not only facilitates economic and societal advances, but also provides critical windows and opportunities to glean information 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.
However, in terms of wider public perception, KCNA, North Korea’s state-run media, has made no mention of missile launches for months – since its last report of a launch in March.
The meeting of the party elite is the most significant event on the Chinese political calendar – especially so this year, with Chinese leader Xi Jinping expected to be appointed to a third term in power, further cementing his status as the most powerful Chinese leader in decades.
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. Although China can’t tell him what he must do, he won’t cause problems.
“North Korea is trying to get the attention of the world and has a lot of reasons for publishing a high-profile missile story now,” said L. Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University. “Kim Jong Un’s public appearance after a month-long absence provides a patriotic headline to mark the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party.”
“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).
The US and South Korea have extended the drills for an extra day after the suspected ICBM test, a decision denounced by a North Korean official as a very dangerous and false choice.
Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said the missile launches marked the first time for North Korea to perform drills involving army units tasked with the operation of tactical nuclear weapons.
The North’s public launch of a missile from under an inland reservoir was also the first of its kind, though it has previously test-launched missiles from a submarine.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Korea, said that North Korea probably wants to make it harder for its enemies to detect its missile liftoffs so that they don’t conduct strikes.
KCNA said when the weapon launched from the reservoir was flying above the sea target, North Korean authorities confirmed the reliability of the explosion of the missile’s warhead, apparently a dummy one, at the set altitude.
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. It was likely the first time that Ri had seen a weapons launch, and it indicated her elevated political standing.
Kim said at the briefing on Thursday that the South Korean military was aware of the situation in real time and maintained its readiness by closely cooperating with the US.
“What I find notable is that these launches are not framed as tests of the missiles themselves, but rather of the units that launch them. Lewis said that it suggests that the systems are deployed.
The KCNA Report of the US Airborne Missile Launch at Camp Humphreys: The Nuclear Threat Behind the US Army’s 77th Anniversary
Among the key military installations in South Korea is the US Army’s Camp Humphreys, the largest US military installation outside of the United States with a population of more than 36,000 US servicemembers, civilian workers, contractors and family members.
According to a professor at Ewha Womans University, there were multiple motives for the announcement.
It is making explicit the nuclear threat behind its recent missile launches by providing a “patriotic headline” for domestic consumption on its 77th anniversary.
“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 stated that if needed, the military will take all military countermeasures.
The US Navy’s Task Force 70 said that a US Navy aircraft carrier group took part in multiple days of trilateral and bilateral exercises with South Korean and Japanese units.
“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.
Japan’s Joint Staff said the security environment around Japan was becoming “increasingly severe” and that drills with the US Navy were strengthening the alliance’s capability to respond to threats.
According to the report, the missiles flew for almost three hours above the sea before hitting their target.
South Korea scrambled for missiles and missile development in the early stages of Korean War II. North Korea flew into international waters on Saturday and Sunday
The details of the reports cannot be trusted, according to Ewha Womans University’s associate professor of international studies. The Kim regime can sometimes be transparent about weapons development goals, but it often exaggerates strength and capabilities.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said that North Korean missile tests show progress even if current strengths are overstated.
a cruise missile has a jet engine that stays in the atmosphere and can be maneuverable like an airplane.
Cruise missiles have a smaller warhead than intercontinental missiles so it would require more to hit the United States.
He said policymakers should not allow domestic politics and Russia’s war in Ukraine to stop them from increasing international coordination on military deterrence and economic sanctions.
There is a new bout of tension on the Korean Peninsula, with the North flying warplanes near their border and the South holding a live-fire drill.
South Korea also on Friday scrambled about 80 military aircraft after tracking about 180 flights by North Korean warplanes inside North Korean territory. The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean warplanes were detected in various areas inland and along the country’s eastern and western coasts, but did not come particularly close to the Koreas’ 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.
South Korea’s President denounced the launch astantamount to violating South Korea’s territory. South Korea fired missiles across the maritime border into international waters.
The South Korea Foreign Ministry said in a news release that the sanctions were against 15 individuals who helped to bring supplies related to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and missile development.
The missiles were fired from Tongchon county in North Korea’s eastern Kangwon province between 11:59 a.m. and 12:18 p.m. local time and flew about 230 kilometers (143 miles) with an altitude of about 24 kilometers (15 miles), according to a statement by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
Later Sunday, the U.S. sent B-1B bombers streaking over the Korean Peninsula to train with South Korean and U.S. fighter jets, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. Washington’s commitment to South Korea’s security was reconfirmed on Sunday by training.
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’re very closely following this. We hope it doesn’t happen but indications unfortunately go in another direction,” said IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi.
United States Response to Pyongyang’s Failure to Launch a 600mm Multiple Launch Rocket in the South of the Suzuki Sea, and a U.N. Security Council Meeting
According to the US Defense Department, the joint exercises involve over 200 aircraft and thousands of service members from both countries.
The Japanese Prime Minister’s Office originally said that the ICMB launch was expected to fly over the prefectures of northern Miyagi and Yamagata. The Defense Ministry of Japan found that the missile did not cross over to Japan.
It could at least theoretically put the whole US mainland in range of a North Korean nuclear warhead, but there’s a lot of unanswered questions about how much the missile can deliver.
It followed that early Sunday with another test. North Korea said both Saturday’s and Sunday’s tests were of a 600mm multiple-launch rocket (MRL) system. The system in most of the world is in the 300mm range.
“And the region where the North Korean missile fell,” he adds, “has many fishing boats catching squid,” suggesting that it could put South Koreans’ livelihoods at risk, and “pose existential threat to South Korea, if need be.”
The allies resumed their large-scale training this year after North Korea dialed up its weapons testing to a record pace, exploiting a divide in the U.N. Security Council over Russia’s war on Ukraine as a window to accelerate arms development.
South Korea’s military on Monday scrambled warplanes and helicopters, but they failed to shoot down any of the North Korean drones before they flew back home or vanished from South Korean radar. One of the North Korean drones traveled as far as northern Seoul. The military apologized for the security scare in the South on Tuesday.
These kinds of activities are potentially destabilizing to the region. So we call on them to cease that type of activity and to begin to engage in serious dialogue,” Austin said.
A United Nations Security Council meeting is expected to take place on Friday to discuss Pyongyang’s recent missile launches. According to a spokeswoman for the US Mission to the UN, the US, UK, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway had called for an open meeting.
Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN on Wednesday that North Korea had broken multiple Security Council resolutions.
According to Thomas-Greenfield, the UN would be putting pressure on Russia and China to improve sanctions. She would not say if the US President would push for sanctions against China at the G20, but she did say that the President was thinking of it.
North Korea’s Vigilant Storm during a High-Energy Air Baseline Run in the 2016-2017 Warfare
B-1B flyovers were a regular show of force during times of tension with North Korea. The planes last appeared in the region in 2017, during another provocative run in North Korean weapons demonstrations. The United States and South Korea stopped their large-scale exercises to support the former Trump administration’s efforts to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the North Korea issue.
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.
North Korea has touted its drone program, and South Korean officials have previously said the North had about 300 drones. In 2014, several suspected North Korean drones equipped with Japanese-made cameras were found south of the border. Experts said that they were low-tech, but could be considered a security threat.
The military responded by firing warning shots and launching fighter jets and attack helicopters to shoot down the North Korean drones. The attack helicopters fired a combined 100 rounds but it wasn’t immediately known if any of the North Korean drones were shot down, according to the Defense Ministry.
The two pilots of a KA-1 plane that crashed during takeoff were the only ones to survive, according to defense officials. They said they also requested civilian airports in and near Seoul to halt takeoffs temporarily.
U.S. Sensitivities to North Korea’s War on the Future: Comment on a South Korean State Media Report on “Once More”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity was aware of the need for the ROK’s territorial integrity. “The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea remains ironclad.”
Kim has also called for the development of reconnaissance drones capable of precision surveillance up to 500 kilometers (310 miles) deep into enemy’s territory. In 2013, he watched a drone attack drill on a simulated South Korean target, according to the North’s state media.
Some experts in South Korea said that the pictures released by North Korea weren’t very sexy and wouldn’t be good for espionage. Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong issued a series of terms that insult unnamed South Korean experts and expressed her anger at the assessments.
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 on Friday, which it plans to use to put a spy satellite into space in the future.
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.
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.
The Pyongyang Military Reactor Joint Force (MRL) Mission: Predictions for a Possible New Year’s Resolution List
Kim said in his speech on Saturday that production of the 600mm MRL had been increased since October of 2022, and it had been introduced three years ago. He later added that an additional 30 of the 600mm MRL will be deployed to the military simultaneously.
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.
“Through timely and immediate deployment of the US extended deterrence force on the Korean Peninsula, the two demonstrated the SK-US combined defense capability and posture by the alliance’s overwhelming force and improved combined operational capability,” the Ministry’s statement said.
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.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has a nuclear policy expert who tells CNN that North Korea is a missile power.
“Kim’s comments from the party meeting reads like an ambitious — but perhaps achievable — New Year’s resolution list,” said Soo Kim, a security analyst at the California-based RAND Corporation. It’s ambitious in that Kim chose to spell out what he wants to achieve, but it also suggests a bit of confidence on Kim’s part.
The new year began but the security situation in the South is still very grave, according to the president. “Our military must resolutely punish any provocation by the enemy with a firm determination that we dare to risk fighting a battle.”
The reference is to a solid-propellant system, which could be the subject of a test soon. He said a satellite launch could take place in April, a month that includes 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 launch did not pose an immediate threat to the U.S. but the White House National Security Council said it raises tensions in the region and could lead to a security breakdown in the region.
The unprecedented number of missiles underscored a continuation of expansion of his country’s military capabilities despite limited resources while negotiations with Washington remain stalemated.
The Hwasong-15 is one of North Korea’s three existing ICBMs, all of which use liquid propellants that require pre-launch injections and cannot remain fueled for extended periods. The North is pushing to build a solid-fueled ICBM, which would be more mobile and harder to detect before its launch.
The Pentagon will hold a one-day exercise with the Republic of Korea next week to prepare for the possible use of nuclear weapons by North Korea.
Japan made a major change in its security policy in December, replacing its post-World War II doctrine of self-defense with a national security strategy that includes a number of military options.
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 showed that the North has a “powerful physical nuclear deterrent” that cannot be countered by the hostile forces, as was stated by the KCNA.
“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.
U.S. Strategic Bombers in the Korean Peninsula: a Security Conference at the High-Redshift South Korean Joint Relativity
The foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea met in Germany on the sidelines of a security conference on Saturday to discuss issues of mutual interest, including the issue of forcedKorean laborers from Japan’s colonial era.
US Air Force B-1B strategic bombers were deployed on the Korean Peninsula with an escort assistance from F-35As, F-15Ks, and F-16s from the South Korean and U.S. Air Forces, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said.
Japan’s coast guard issued an alert to vessels Monday morning local time, and advised to keep an eye out for further information. The agency told vessels to stay away from fallen objects, as well as to report any spotting to the coast guard.
Kim said that it would be better to think about alternatives to defend yourself than to worry about other people’s technologies.
She also said that if North Korea deemed the presence of US forces in the region as a threat, they would take “corresponding measures,” and added, “the frequency of using the Pacific Ocean as our shooting range depends on the nature of the US military’s actions.”