Shortly after the end of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Asia, North Korea once again demonstrated military strength with new missile tests. North Korea fired three nuclear-capable missiles at short intervals towards the open sea in the east on Wednesday morning (local time), at least one of which was apparently an ICBM, South Korea’s general staff said.
The allied forces of South Korea and the USA responded with their own demonstrations of strength and reportedly shot down surface-to-surface missiles.
South Korea accused the largely isolated neighboring country of provocation. UN resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles of any range. Such missiles are usually surface-to-surface missiles which, depending on their design, can also carry one or more nuclear warheads. North Korea is subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons program.
The latest round of testing came at a time of growing uncertainty in the region. It was North Korea’s 17th round of missile tests this year. During his visit to Seoul at the weekend, Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed, among other things, that their countries would consult on expanding joint military maneuvers because of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons program. North Korea sees these regular maneuvers by US forces in South Korea as a provocation.
In the most recent test round, the alleged ICBM flew about 360 kilometers at an altitude of up to 540 kilometers, it said. It may have been the country’s largest ICBM of the Hwasong-17 type – North Korea calls it Hwasongpho-17 – reported the South Korean news agency Yonhap, citing military officials. ICBMs include missiles that have a range of more than 5500 kilometers. It was initially unclear whether North Korea deliberately limited the flight distance to a few hundred kilometers so that it would not fly over Japan.
North Korea said it had tested a Hwasongpho-17 on March 24th. The information was questioned by the South Korean military, which assumed a test missile of the older type Hwasong-15.
Two suspected short-range missiles (SRBMs) were also said to have been fired this time. According to the South Korean military, one of the tests apparently failed. The rocket could therefore have exploded at an altitude of 20 kilometers in the air. The second SRBM therefore flew about 760 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 60 kilometers.