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Friday, April 12, 2024

S. Korea & US launch 8 missiles to threaten N. Korea

North and South Koreas frequently flex military muscles but due to North Korea's growing nuclear arsenal, the likelihood of war is increasing.

South Korea and the US fired eight missiles into the East Sea on Monday in response to North Korea’s missile launches.

The early morning missile launches “demonstrated the capability and posture to launch immediate precision strikes,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

On Sunday, North Korea launched at least eight short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, the third missile test since the inauguration of South’s new President Yoon-Seok-yeol last month and the 18th since the beginning of 2022.

The latest missile launches came two days after a joint military drill by South Korea and the US concluded in international waters off Okinawa mobilizing the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, apparently to send a stern message against North Korea’s continued missile tests.

Since last year, tensions have mounted in the Korean Peninsula as both the North and South have engaged in frequent military drills in shows of power.

Nuclear test

Last month, during a summit with Yoon, US President Joe Biden said Washington would deploy “strategic assets” to the South if necessary as part of efforts to bolster deterrence.

Pyongyang test-fired three missiles, including possibly its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, just days after Biden left South Korea following his summit with Yoon.

Read more: North Korea provokes South Korea with missile launch

US and South Korean officials have warned for weeks that Pyongyang may conduct a seventh nuclear test.

Last month, a US bid to impose fresh UN sanctions on Pyongyang over its missile launches was vetoed by Russia and China.

Despite struggling with a recent Covid-19 outbreak, North Korea has resumed construction on a long-dormant nuclear reactor, new satellite imagery has indicated.

South Korea’s presidential office said last month that Pyongyang had carried out tests of a nuclear detonation device in preparation for its first nuclear test since 2017.

Long-range and nuclear tests have been paused since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met then-US President Donald Trump for a bout of high-profile negotiations that collapsed in 2019.

Read more: North Korea launches eight ballistic missiles, says South Korean military

But Pyongyang has since abandoned this self-imposed moratorium, carrying out a blitz of sanctions-busting weapons tests this year, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at full range.

Analysts have warned Kim could speed up nuclear testing plans to distract North Korea’s population from the disastrous coronavirus outbreak.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk