North Korea stokes tensions with ninth missile launch in 20 days
Seoul, Oct 14 (EFE).- North Korea launched at least one unidentified missile into the Sea of Japan on Thursday night, the ninth time it has fired rockets in the last 20 days amid escalating tensions in the region.
“North Korea has fired an unidentified missile into the East Sea,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a brief statement.
The launch comes barely an hour after at least 10 North Korean aircraft conducted maneuvers near the border with the South, forcing Seoul to deploy aircraft for a potential interception maneuver, and a day after Pyongyang announced it had conducted another cruise missile test launch into the Yellow Sea.
“The Republic of Korea’s Army identified about 10 North Korean aircraft between 22:30 on Thursday, Oct. 13 and 00:20 on Friday, Oct. 14 and took response measures,” the JCS said in a statement.
Seoul activated the “scramble” maneuver to intercept aircraft entering its airspace by deploying several aircraft, including several F-35 fighter-bombers, without ultimately resulting in any incident, the text said.
The North Korean aircraft came within 25 kilometers north of the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two countries, and 12 kilometers north of the so-called Northern Limit Line, which marks the maritime divide between the two countries in the Yellow Sea.
It is the second time in the last week that North Korean aircraft have flown close to the border between the two countries.
Earlier on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said he was considering asking the US for a greater military deployment in the region.
Pyongyang has conducted nine missile launches since September 25, a succession of tests to gauge its tactical nuclear weapons systems in response to recent maneuvers by a US aircraft carrier in the waters off the Korean peninsula.
Many analysts believe that new North Korean tests are on the horizon, including a new underground nuclear detonation, which would be the first since September 2017.
North Korea, which has kept its borders completely closed since the start of the pandemic, approved a major weapons modernization plan in 2021 and has rejected offers to resume dialogue by South Korea and the US.
In turn, satellites have detected that the hermetic country has been preparing for months to carry out a new atomic test in Punggye-ri (northeast of the country). EFE