North Korea’s continuation of missile tests shows its determination not to back down, despite US and South Korean drills that are the largest of their kind in years. But many experts say the tests are also part of a larger goal to expand its arsenal of weapons, gain international recognition as a nuclear state and lift international sanctions.

The missile was launched from the northwestern Tongchangri area and flew across the country before landing in the water off the east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

He said it traveled a distance of about 500 miles, a range that suggests the weapon could be targeted at South Korea.

American bombers
US Air Force B-1B bombers, top center, fly in formation with South Korean and US fighter jets during a joint aerial drill in South Korea (South Korean Defense Ministry/AP/PA )

Top nuclear envoys from South Korea, Japan and the US discussed the launch over the phone and strongly condemned it as a provocation that threatens peace on the Korean peninsula and in the region. They agreed to strengthen their coordination to issue a firm international response to the North’s action, according to the Seoul Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The South Korean military said it will proceed with the rest of the joint drills with the US and will stand ready to respond “overwhelmingly” to any North Korean provocation.

As part of the drills, the United States on Sunday flew at least one long-range B-1B bomber for joint aerial training with South Korean fighter jets, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

North Korea is very sensitive to the deployment of B-1Bs, which are capable of carrying a huge payload of conventional weapons. It responded to the February B-1B flights by launching test missiles, the ranges of which showed they can hit some military airbases in South Korea.

Japanese Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino said the missile launched on Sunday landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches what is said to be a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on March 16 (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP/PA)

He called the launch “a threat” to the security of Japan, the region and the international community that “absolutely cannot be tolerated.”

He also said the missile likely showed an irregular trajectory, which could be a reference to North Korea’s highly maneuverable and nuclear-capable KN-23 missile.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch does not pose an immediate threat to US homeland or its allies, but highlights “the destabilizing impact of its illegal weapons programs” and US security commitment. with South Korea and Japan he is still “iron”.

The launch was the third round of North Korean weapons tests since the US and South Korean militaries began their joint exercises on Monday. They will continue until Thursday.

Weapons that North Korea has recently tested include its longer-range Hwasong-17 ICBM designed to strike the continental United States.

North Korean state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying the launch was meant to “instill fear in enemies.”

According to South Korean media reports, the US and South Korea plan more training with a US aircraft carrier later this month after their current exercises end.

This suggests that the animosities on the Korean peninsula could last for a few more weeks, as North Korea is likely to respond to such drills with weapons tests as well.


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