SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea yesterday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles, its neighbours said, the fourth round this week of weapons launches that prompted quick, strong condemnation from its rivals.
In an unusually strong rebuke of North Korea’s weapons programmes, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said North Korea’s “obsession” with nuclear weapons is deepening the suffering of its own people, and warned of an “overwhelming response” from South Korean and United States (US) militaries should such weapons be used.
“North Korea hasn’t abandoned its obsession with nukes and missiles despite the persistent international objection in the past 30 years,” Yoon said during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the military headquarters in central South Korea.
“The development of nuclear weapons will plunge the lives of North Korean people in further pains. If North Korea attempts to use nukes, it’ll face a resolute, overwhelming response by the South Korea-US alliance and our military,” Yoon said.
Yesterday, South Korea, Japanese and US militaries said they detected the two North Korean missile launches. South Korea said the liftoffs occurred from North Korea’s capital region.
According to South Korean and Japanese estimates, the missiles flew about 350-400 kilometres at a maximum altitude of 30-50 kilometres before they landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino said the missiles showed “irregular” trajectory.
The five other ballistic missiles fired by North Korea on three occasions this week show similar trajectories to the ones detected yesterday.
“The repeated ballistic missile firings by North Korea are a grave provocation that undermines peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.