North Korea has fired a record number of ballistic missiles since Kim Jong-un came to power. In the week since September 25, Pyongyang launched 10 missiles, and in total since the beginning of the year – 23, writes Bloomberg.
Tensions escalated following the US decision to send the Ronald Reagan carrier strike group to the South Korean port of Busan to participate in exercises with Japan and South Korea.
“The DPRK is watching the US pose a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and its environs by redeploying an aircraft carrier task force to the waters of the Korean Peninsula,” the DPRK Foreign Ministry said, followed by missile launches.
One of the North Korean ballistic missiles, launched on Tuesday, October 4, flew over Japan and forced the country’s citizens to hide in shelters. This missile had a range of about 4,500 km and an altitude of about 970 km. Its top speed was about Mach 17, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
“We strongly condemn North Korea’s dangerous and reckless launch of a long-range missile that overflew Japan and endangered Japanese citizens,” declared US State Department Secretary Anthony Blinken. If North Korea continues to “follow this path” of provocation, he said, “it will only increase condemnation, increase isolation, and intensify the steps taken in response to their actions.”
In response to North Korean missile launches during exercises, South Korean F-15K fighters fired two JDAM bombs at a virtual target in a firing range west of the Korean Peninsula. Four ATACMS missiles were also tested. ground-to-ground class off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.
“This is not the first time we’ve done this in response to provocations from the North, to make sure we can demonstrate our own capabilities,” said John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.
The United States also accused China and Russia of allowing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to escape the full weight of UN Security Council sanctions for developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. By words US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, two permanent members of the Security Council enabled the North Korean dictator to ignore international sanctions with his veto power.
China and Russia did not want to hold a meeting of the Security Council after the launch of North Korean missiles, arguing that this would not help to alleviate the situation. Following the meeting, which nevertheless took place, nine of the 15 members of the Security Council condemned the actions of Pyongyang: the United States, Great Britain, France, Albania, Brazil, India, Ireland, Norway and the United Arab Emirates.
At the same time, China and Russia accused the United States and South Korea of provoking the DPRK with their joint military exercises. “This is a clear attempt by China and Russia to reward the DPRK for its bad actions,” said US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield.