North Korea fires four ballistic missiles as the US and Seoul wrap up drills

North Korea fires four ballistic missiles as the US and Seoul wrap up drills

SEOUL, Nov 5 (Reuters) – North Korea fired four short-range ballistic missiles into the West Sea on Saturday, South Korea’s military said, as Seoul and Washington wrapped up six days of high-profile military exercises.

North Korea launched a series of missiles this week, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile, drawing condemnation from the United States, South Korea and Japan and fueling speculation that it may be preparing to resume nuclear weapons tests for the first time since 2017.

Saturday’s launches between 11:31 a.m. and 11:59 a.m. (0231-0259 GMT) come as the United States and South Korea completed “Vigilant Storm” they started the exercise on Monday.

The missiles flew about 130 km (80 miles), reaching an altitude of about 20 km (10 miles), Seoul said.

About 240 military aircraft and two US B-1B strategic bombers, as well as four F-16 and four F-35A fighters took part in the allied exercise, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A North Korean flag flies over North Korea’s Gijungdong propaganda village, in this picture taken near the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, South Korea, July 19, 2022. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool/ File Photo

This is the first time the B-1B has been deployed in US-South Korean exercises since 2017, demonstrating “the combined defense capabilities and determination of the Republic of Korea and the United States to respond decisively to any provocations from North Korea, and the willingness of the United States of America to implement strong commitment to extended deterrence,” the joint chiefs said in a statement.

Pyongyang on Friday asked the United States and South Korea to halt “provocative” air drills. South Korea said it fired warplanes in response to 180 North Korean military flights near the countries’ shared border on Friday.

North Korea fired a daily record 23 missiles on Wednesday, one of which landed on the coast of South Korea for the first time, after Pyongyang threatened to take strong action unless Washington halts allied air exercises with South Korea.

As exchanges continued throughout the week, Washington called for a public meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, where it accused Russia and China of providing “full protection” to North Korea from further action by the Security Council.

A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement late Friday warning that “sustained provocation will be followed by continued counteraction,” state media KCNA said.

In recent years, the Security Council has been divided over how to deal with North Korea. In May, China and Russia vetoed a US attempt to impose additional UN sanctions in response to North Korea’s missile launch.

Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Michael Perry and William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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