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South Korea, US fire missiles into Sea of Japan after North Korean test

South Korea and the United States fired four missiles on Wednesday in response to a North Korean projectile that flew over Japanese territory the day before, the South Korean military said.

Armed with nuclear weapons, North Korea launched an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Tuesday for the first time since 2017, prompting Japanese authorities to order the evacuation of its residents.

The South Korean and US military responded by launching two short-range missiles each, which “accurately hit a virtual target” in the Sea of ​​Japan, also known as the East Sea, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in Seoul.

The maneuvers “demonstrated the skill and readiness to neutralize the source of the provocation while maintaining a constant monitoring position,” the statement said.

The military also confirmed that a South Korean missile failed shortly after firing and exploded without causing any casualties.

On Tuesday, American and South Korean fighter jets carried out a bombing exercise in the Yellow Sea.

The exercises wanted to “ensure that we have the military capabilities ready to respond to provocations from the North if that situation comes to a head,” US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN.

“We must not come to that. We made it clear to Kim Jong Un that we are willing to sit down and negotiate without preconditions. We want to see the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” he added.

“He has shown no willingness to move in that direction and frankly is moving in the opposite direction, continuing to carry out missile tests, which are violations of UN Security Council resolutions,” he added.

Pyongyang’s latest test joins a record series of weapons tests by the isolated communist regime, which recently revised its laws to declare its nuclear power status “irreversible”.

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned “in the strongest terms” the latest missile launch.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the North’s firing a “provocation” and called for a “firm response”.

Joint military maneuvers

The last time Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan was in 2017, amid a period of rising tension between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump.

With its firing on Tuesday, North Korea launched five missiles in the past ten days.

This flurry of tests coincides with intensified military cooperation in the region between Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, which will conduct their first trilateral submarine maneuvers in five years on Friday.

These maneuvers infuriate Pyongyang, which sees them as rehearsals for a hypothetical invasion of the country.

As a sign of this growing cooperation, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Japan and South Korea last week, taking advantage of the trip to see the demilitarized zone that divides the Korean peninsula.

The US Army has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea to help protect it from the North if the need arises.

In recent months, South Korean and US officials have warned that Kim Jong Un’s regime is preparing a new nuclear test, which would be the seventh since 2006 and the first since 2017.

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