North Korea fires a salvo of eight ballistic missiles

North Korea launched eight ballistic missiles into the waters off its eastern coast on Sunday, the day after three days of joint military exercises by the American and South Korean armies.

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“Our military detected the launch of eight short-range ballistic missiles from the Sunan sector in Pyongyang towards the East Sea,” the South Korean general staff said, referring to the South Korean Sea. Japan.

These launches took place within a time frame of 30 minutes. The missiles traveled 110 to 670 km at different altitudes, the highest reaching 90 km, the staff said.

This multiple launch is “unusual” and “totally unacceptable”, reacted the Japanese Minister of Defense, Nobuo Kishi.

North Korea is under severe UN sanctions over its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

These new firings come after three days of large-scale exercises by the American and South Korean armies, with the participation of the USS Ronald Reagan, a 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

These were the first joint maneuvers between the two countries since the inauguration of new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in early May, who promised a tougher policy towards Pyongyang, and the first involving a door -planes since November 2017.

North Korea has long protested against such exercises, which it considers a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

“The exercise reinforced both countries’ resolve to respond with severity to any North Korean provocation, while demonstrating the United States’ commitment to providing extensive deterrence,” the South Korean military said in a statement. .

Analysts said Sunday’s missile salvo, which adds to the 20 or so weapons tests carried out by Pyongyang since the start of the year, sends a clear message to Seoul and Washington.

“This shows North Korea’s intention to neutralize the missile defense system of South Korea and the United States with multiple simultaneous attacks” in the event of war, said Cheong Seong-jang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute.

Last month, during a summit in Seoul with Mr. Yoon, US President Joe Biden assured that Washington would deploy “strategic means” if necessary to dissuade North Korea from attacking its neighbor.

A few hours after Mr. Biden’s departure from the region, the Kim Jong Un regime had carried out the test firing of three missiles, including a Hwasong-17, presented as its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile.

Seoul and Washington have been warning for weeks that Pyongyang could soon carry out a seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.

North Korea, hit by a strong Covid-19 epidemic wave, has resumed construction of a long-dormant nuclear reactor, new satellite images show.

According to the South Korean presidency, Pyongyang conducted tests of a detonation device in preparation for this test.

Kim Jong Un had ceased nuclear and long-range missile testing when he attempted talks with then-US President Donald Trump, but talks broke down in 2019.

North Korea partially broke this self-imposed moratorium by firing an intercontinental missile (ICBM) at the end of March.

Analysts believe that Kim Jong Un may be accelerating his nuclear test plans to divert attention from the North Korean population affected by the coronavirus.

The country reached Saturday, according to official figures, the bar of 4 million cases for a population of 25 million inhabitants.

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