(Update 1: Adds new South Korean military drills in pars 12-14)
Seoul, Nov 7 (EFE).- North Korea on Monday described the recent large-scale military air exercises by South Korea and the United States as “intolerable and unpardonable” and warned that if such actions continue, Pyongyang will respond “more thoroughly and mercilessly.”
“The serious situation prevailing on the Korean Peninsula due to the reckless military hysteria of the US and South Korea is now moving toward the more unstable confrontation,” said a text from the North Korean General Staff published by the state news agency KCNA.
It called the US-South Korea Vigilant Storm air maneuvers, to which Pyongyang responded by launching 30 missiles last week, “an open provocation aimed at intentionally escalating the tension in the region and a dangerous war drill of very high aggressive nature directly targeting” North Korea, and detailed a series of military operations carried out between Nov. 2-5.
Among them, Pyongyang claims to have fired on Nov. 2 four tactical ballistic missiles loaded with dispersal and anti-bunker warheads at an uninhabited island in the Yellow Sea, and then 23 ground-to-air missiles “while staging an exercise to annihilate air targets at different altitudes and distances.”
One of the missiles launched on Wednesday landed close to South Korean territorial waters for the first time, to which Seoul responded by launching precision bombs in the direction of the neighboring country’s coastline.
The regime claims that, in response, it launched two more strategic cruise missiles from its northeast coast that traveled about 590 kilometers and crashed into waters about 80 kilometers from the South Korean city of Ulsan.
The text also said that on Nov. 3 the North’s army carried out an “important test-fire of ballistic missile to verify the movement reliability of a special functional warhead paralyzing the operation command system of the enemy.”
This refers to the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that triggered civil alerts in Japan and that both Seoul and Tokyo believe failed mid-flight.
KCNA posted a photo of the launch of what appears to be a modified Hwasong-15 missile, the longest potential ICBM Pyongyang has successfully tested to date.
“Intolerable and unpardonable are all the recent challenging moves of the US and South Korea staging military drills for aggression on a large scale,” it added.
“The more persistently the enemies’ provocative military moves continue, the more thoroughly and mercilessly the KPA will counter them.”
Despite this, the South Korean army on Monday began an annual military exercise based on computer simulations.
The Taegeuk maneuvers, a command post exercise that does not include field deployments, will be held until Nov. 11, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed at a press conference.
The exercise seeks to “master the practical mission capability in preparation for various threats such as North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and recent provocations,” the JCS previously said in a statement.
Tension on the peninsula is reaching unprecedented heights amid repeated North Korean weapons launches, the allies’ military drills and the possibility that, as satellites indicate, Kim Jong-un’s regime is ready for its first test nuclear since 2017. EFE