South Korea’s military said North Korea has fired four short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, adding to its barrage of weapons demonstrations this week that has raised tensions in the region.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday that the missiles flew around 130 kilometres (80 miles) toward the North’s western sea.
North Korea this week launched dozens of missiles into the sea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that triggered evacuation warnings in northern Japan, and flew warplanes inside its territory.
North Korea has described its military actions as an appropriate response to a combined US-South Korea aerial drills, which it called a display of US “military confrontation hysteria”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects military exercises at an undisclosed location in North Korea (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP/PA)
The United States flew two B-1B supersonic bombers on Saturday over South Korea on the final days of the joint drills, in a show of force meant to intimidate North Korea over its intensifying testing activity.
The “Vigilant Storm” exercise, which has involved about 240 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries, has triggered an angry reaction from North Korea.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said North Korea will respond with the “toughest counteraction” to any attempts by “hostile forces” to infringe on its sovereignty or security interests.
B-1B flyovers had been a familiar show of force during past periods of tensions with North Korea. The planes last appeared in the region in 2017, during another provocative run in North Korean weapons demonstrations.
But the flyovers had been halted in recent years as the US and South Korea halted their large-scale exercises to support the Trump administration’s diplomatic efforts with North Korea and because of Covid-19.
The allies have resumed their large-scale training this year as North Korea dialed up its weapons testing to a record pace, exploiting a divide in the UN Security Council deepened over Russia’s war on Ukraine as a window to accelerate arms development.
South Korea scrambled about 80 military aircraft on Friday after tracking about 180 flights by North Korean warplanes inside North Korean territory.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean warplanes were detected in various areas inland and along the country’s eastern and western coasts, but did not come particularly close to the Koreas’ border.