South Korea, Japan on Monday strongly denounced the test-launches of ballistic missiles by North Korea as it violates the UN Security Council resolutions.
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the DPRK fired four ballistic missiles of a new type into east waters at about 7:36 a.m. local time (2236 GMT on Sunday). The missiles flew eastward some 1,000 km on average, and three out of the four fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
South Korean Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is serving as caretaker president following the impeachment in December of President Park Geun-hye, denounced the DPRK’s missiles launches as a grave provocation and a direct challenge to the international community as it defied repeated warnings from the international society against ballistic missile launches.
Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches blatantly and clearly violate the UN Security Council resolutions while threatening peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the entire international community.
Under the UN resolutions, Pyongyang is banned from testing any ballistic missile technology.
The statement said Pyongyang should realize the fact that repeated provocations and “fanatic” adherence to nuclear and missile developments will speed up the country’s isolation and self-destruction.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed the missile launches during an Upper House Committee session on Monday, saying “the launches clearly show that North Korea has reached a new dimension of threat and the repeated launches are serious provocation to our security”.
Japan has also filed an official protest against the DPRK over the latest missile launches, the Japanese leader said.
While saying there were no immediate reports of damage to ships, vessels, or aircraft flying in the vicinity of the missiles’ flight path, Japan’s top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo that the DPRK’s launch was a “grave threat to national security”, and Japan would be fully on alert for any future contingencies.
Senior security officials of South Korea and the United States also had phone talks over the missile launches.
Kim Kwan-jin, top security advisor to impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye, talked with U.S. national security advisor Herbert McMaster of the White House via phone for 15 minutes from 10:45 a.m. local time (0145 GMT), South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement.
During the talks, Kim and McMaster strongly denounced the missile launches, agreeing to strengthen cooperation to put effective sanctions and pressure towards the DPRK.
South Korea’s chief negotiator of the six-party talks also held emergency phone talks with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts following the DPRK’s missile test-launches, Seoul’s foreign ministry said.
The DPRK’s test-launches came in a possible retaliation to the annual U.S.-South Korea springtime war game that kicked off on March 1. Pyongyang has denounced it as a dress rehearsal for northward invasion.
The Foal Eagle field training exercise is scheduled to last by the end of April, mobilizing U.S. strategic assets such as a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and stealth fighter jets.
The South Korean military is analyzing the missile launches jointly with the U.S. forces, maintaining a full defense readiness for any possible DPRK provocations, according to the JCS.
About 10,000 U.S. troops, including U.S. Forces Korea (USFK), will be mobilized for the drill together with 290,000 South Korean soldiers.
It would be almost the same as the largest-ever spring war game carried out in 2016.
On Feb. 12, Pyongyang successfully test-launched a new type of Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) in the launch supervised by DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un.
Expectations had been running high for the DPRK’s test-firing of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the near future based on the IRBM technology, but the JCS said the missiles launched Monday were unlikely to be new ICBMs of the DPRK.