What we know about the missile exchange between North Korea, the United States and South Korea

The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, denounces a “climbing”. South Korea and the United States launched several missiles on Wednesday (October 5) towards targets in the sea, a day after North Korea fired a ballistic missile that passed over Japan. This year, Pyongyangwhich is equipped with nuclear weapons, has intensified its projects to modernize its weapons. The UN Security Council will meet on Wednesday About that. Franceinfo takes stock of the situation.

North Korean missile launch flies over Japan, the first since 2017

It flew a distance of about 4,500 km, at an altitude of 970 km. North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on Tuesday, October 4, which flew over Japan. Tokyo confirmed the shooting, unusually triggering a public alert system and asking residents of two northern regions of Japan to take shelter if possible. According to experts and senior officials, the missile is a nuclear-capable Hwasong-12.

Pyongyang’s last missile launch over Japan was in 2017, at the height of the “fire and fury” period during which North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then-US President Donald Trump exchanged insults.

“This is an act of violence that follows the recent repeated launch of ballistic missiles. We strongly condemn it.”Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reacted. Seoul also called the shot “provocation” raping “clearly the universal principles and norms of the United Nations”.

South Korea and the United States retaliate with sea-launched missiles

In the process, Washington promised a response. “robust” to this shot, in order to reaffirm “unwavering commitment” from his country to his Asian allies, Japan and South Korea. South Korean and US warplanes conducted precision strike drills for the first time on Tuesday, with two South Korean F-15K fighter jets dropping bombs on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea.

On Wednesday, the South Korean and US militaries each fired two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles. “to accurately hit a virtual target” in the Sea of ​​Japan. Objective, according to a press release from the South Korean general staff: to show “that we are capable and ready to neutralize the source of the provocation by maintaining a constant vigilance position.”

Seoul, however, confirmed the failed launch of a fifth Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missile, which crashed to the ground shortly after launch. The missile’s warhead did not explode and no one was injured, according to the Korean General Staff. But a huge fire broke out, causing panic in the city of Gangneung, on South Korea’s east coast.

North Korea intensifies the modernization of its weapons

North Korea, which is under UN sanctions for its weapons programs, has stepped up its modernization this year. Last week, it fired four short-range ballistic missiles. Pyongyang generally seeks to maximize the geopolitical impact of its trials by choosing the most opportune moment.

“North Korea always starts with a low-level provocation and gradually raises the bar to attract global media attention.Go Myong-hyun, a researcher at the Asan Institute for Political Studies, advances to AFP. By launching the missile over Japan, they show that their nuclear threat is not just aimed at South Korea.” The shot that flew over Japan “In theory, it could reach the island of Guam in the Pacific. An American island where the navy is extremely present. So this shot is a message sent to the United States instead of Japan.”confirms in franceinfo Antoine Bondaz, director of the Korea program at the Foundation for Strategic Research and professor at Sciences Po.

“Over the past four years, the country has developed precision strike capabilities capable of piercing Korean and Japanese missile defenses. It is North Korea’s wish to change the balance of power in the region.”

Antoine Bondaz, specialist in North Korea

in franceinfo

Leader Kim Jong-un prepares to conduct another nuclear test

South Korean and US officials have been warning for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test. This could take place after the Chinese Communist Party congress that begins on October 16, several senior officials from the US Asia-Pacific Command reported this weekend.

“Despite today’s missile launch… North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test will remain unchanged.”Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies, told AFP. “Pyongyang is likely to ridicule today’s missile launch, especially since one of the launches failed.”he added about the South Korean and US launches on Wednesday.

Pyongyang, which revised its legislation in September to make its status as a nuclear power “irreversible,” has tested atomic bombs six times since 2006. The last and most powerful test occurred in 2017, with an estimated power of 250 kilotons. The fact that North Korea has a nuclear weapon is all the more worrying since, unlike other nuclear powers, the Pyongyang regime does not view such weapons as a deterrent that will never be used.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called Pyongyang “to resume the dialogue” in order to achieve “complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

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