North Korea fires cruise missiles into the sea after US-South Korean military drills end

by Andrew Wright
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Missile Tests

Following the conclusion of the joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, North Korea has launched a series of cruise missiles into the sea, according to an announcement by South Korea’s military on Saturday. This action represents an extension of North Korea’s ongoing weapons testing endeavors, which have been prompted by the aforementioned military drills conducted by the US and South Korea.

The launches were detected by South Korea’s military in the early hours of Saturday morning, originating from the North’s western coastline. As per a statement issued by the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, both South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies are meticulously analyzing the particulars of these missile launches. The statement also highlights that South Korea has escalated its surveillance measures and remains in a state of robust military preparedness, closely coordinated with the United States.

These missile launches come just two days after the culmination of the 11-day training exercises jointly carried out by the U.S. and South Korean militaries – drills that North Korea views as rehearsals for a potential invasion. Officials from Washington and Seoul are steadfast in their assertion that these exercises are purely defensive in nature.

The day preceding the conclusion of the U.S.-South Korean training, North Korea executed the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea. This launch was positioned as a simulation of “scorched earth” nuclear strikes on South Korea. Additionally, the North disclosed its engagement in a separate command post exercise, aimed at practicing a territorial occupation of South Korea in the event of a conflict.

Notably, on August 21, coinciding with the commencement of the U.S.-South Korean drills, North Korea’s state media reported that its leader, Kim Jong Un, personally observed the launch of cruise missiles. However, the nation’s subsequent attempt to place a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit on August 24 proved unsuccessful. North Korea has announced its intention to make a third attempt in October.

Since the onset of 2022, North Korea has conducted more than 100 weapons tests, a significant portion of which have comprised ballistic launches. These ballistic tests are explicitly prohibited by resolutions from the United Nations Security Council. In contrast, the testing of cruise missiles by North Korea isn’t explicitly prohibited, yet they remain a source of concern for regional adversaries due to their design to fly at lower altitudes in order to evade radar detection. Experts in the field contend that North Korea’s cruise missiles are primarily intended for striking incoming U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in the event of armed conflict.

Foreign analysts posit that Kim Jong Un employs the U.S.-South Korean military exercises as a pretext to bolster his missile and nuclear arsenals. This strategy is perceived as an effort to enhance his bargaining power in potential future negotiations with the United States. Furthermore, it is suggested that Kim aspires to secure international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state, which would subsequently facilitate the lifting of United Nations sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Missile Tests

What prompted North Korea to launch cruise missiles into the sea?

North Korea launched cruise missiles as a response to the conclusion of joint military drills between the United States and South Korea. These drills are viewed by North Korea as potential rehearsals for invasion.

How did South Korea’s military detect the missile launches?

South Korea’s military detected the missile launches early Saturday morning off North Korea’s west coast, according to a statement by the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

What actions are South Korea and the United States taking in response to these missile launches?

Both countries are actively analyzing details of the launches through their intelligence authorities. South Korea has heightened its surveillance and maintains military readiness in close coordination with the United States.

What other recent missile tests has North Korea conducted?

Before these cruise missile launches, North Korea fired short-range ballistic missiles and attempted to place a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit. These actions highlight its ongoing weapons testing activities.

How does North Korea’s missile technology pose a threat?

North Korea’s cruise missiles fly at lower altitudes to evade radar detection, and their main purpose is to target incoming U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in case of conflict, according to analysts.

Why do experts suggest Kim Jong Un employs these missile tests?

Experts believe Kim aims to strengthen his missile and nuclear arsenals as a negotiation tactic with the United States. He also seeks international recognition as a legitimate nuclear state to lift sanctions on North Korea.

How many weapons tests has North Korea conducted recently?

Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has conducted over 100 weapons tests, with a significant number of them involving ballistic launches, despite being prohibited by United Nations Security Council resolutions.

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