North Korea fires ballistic missiles as top Biden official visits Seoul | World News - Hindustan Times
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North Korea fires ballistic missiles as top Biden official visits Seoul

Bloomberg |
Mar 18, 2024 07:41 AM IST

Several short-range ballistic missiles were fired from around 7:44 a.m. Monday from a province southeast of Pyongyang.

North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles in a defiant show of force that coincided with a visit to Seoul by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for a Summit for Democracy.

North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward waters off the east coast that reached a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) and flew some 350 km.(HT File)
North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward waters off the east coast that reached a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) and flew some 350 km.(HT File)

Several short-range ballistic missiles were fired from around 7:44 a.m. Monday from a province southeast of Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message to reporters. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in parliament that multiple missiles were launched, and there were no reports of damage as the projectiles fell outside of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

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READ | North Korea fires several cruise missiles: Seoul military

North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward waters off the east coast that reached a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers (31 miles) and flew some 350 km, Japan’s Ministry of Defense said. It didn’t comment on the type of projectiles but the trajectory is similar to that of short-range ballistic missiles North Korea has previously tested.

This is the first ballistic missile test from North Korea in about two months and it is unclear what was in the barrage. North Korea, which often comments on missile launches the following day, has been known to engage in provocations designed to coincide with high-profile political events involving the US, South Korea and Japan.

Kim Jong Un’s regime last conducted a ballistic missile test in mid-January, when it fired off an intermediate-range rocket designed to hit US bases in Asia. The state’s official media said that projectile was a “hypersonic” missile, indicating it deployed a reentry vehicle for carrying a nuclear warhead that can change its flight path at high speeds.

READ | North Korea launched ballistic missile toward sea, says South Korea

Kim and his official media have been lashing out frequently at the US and South Korea, with the North Korean leader saying the time for peaceful unification is over and striking the concept from the country’s constitution.

Prior to the launch, Kim guided military drills that included fire from an artillery unit capable of hitting Seoul, overseeing training that simulated storming a South Korean border guard post and driving the country’s newest tank. These stepped up threats against his neighbor to the south coincided with it holding joint military training with the US.

The US and South Korea concluded their annual Freedom Shield exercises on March 14, which included training on land, sea and in the air against contingencies posed by North Korea. Pyongyang has bristled for decades against joint drills, calling them a prelude to an invasion.

Kim said in February he has the legal right to annihilate South Korea. Kim has also shown no inclination that he wants to return to stalled nuclear disarmament talks and has rolled out a series of new weapons designed to deliver nuclear strikes on the US and its allies in Asia.

This has led to some speculation that Kim has turned the corner on his bellicose outbursts and is readying for battle. US President Joe Biden has warned Kim that it would mean the end of his regime if he tried to launch a nuclear attack.

Kim appears to be transferring massive amounts of weapons to Russia for President Vladimir Putin to use in his war on Ukraine. The arms include artillery shells and ballistic missiles, the US and South Korea have said. Russia is likely providing technology, key materials and commodities to Kim that could help him expand the economy and increase his military strength.

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