North Korea Practicing Strikes Against U.S., South Korea

A missile test at an undisclosed location in North Korea released on Oct. 10, 2022. | Image b y KCNA/AP

North Korea said its recent missile tests, which triggered evacuation alerts in parts of South Korea and Japan last week, were practice for striking U.S. and South Korean targets such as air bases and operational command systems.

The drills were reportedly carried out in protest of the U.S.- South Korean air force exercises conducted last week that Pyongyang regarded as preparation for an invasion.

North Korea’s weapons tests last week involved ballistic missiles loaded with dispersion warheads and underground infiltration warheads, ground-to-air missiles, and cruise missiles that fell in international waters off the coast of Ulsan in South Korea.

Last Wednesday, North Korea launched more than 20 rockets, the most ever reported in a single day.

In a statement, the North Korean military’s General Staff said that its recent moves were prompted by the South Korean and U.S. militaries conducting their “Vigilant Storm” joint arms exercise.

Vigilant Storm is an annual “training exercise involving hundreds of aircraft and designed to enhance combat readiness and interoperability between the U.S. Air Force and some of its allies in the Asia-Pacific region,” according to Flying magazine.

This year’s drills were the largest ever for the annual fall maneuvers, CBS News reported.

“The recent corresponding military operations by the Korean People’s Army (KPA) are a clear response by [North Korea] that the more persistent the enemies’ provocative military moves continue, the more thoroughly and mercilessly the KPA will counter them,” the statement said, according to The Hill.

A ballistic missile armed with a special warhead for “paralyzing the enemy’s operation command system” was also tested, according to a North Korean military statement.

Kim Jun-rak, a South Korean military spokesperson, questioned the legitimacy of some of the tests, adding that North Korea’s cruise missile launches were not detected.

The U.S. and South Korea responded to North Korea’s actions by extending their joint military exercises for an extra day, with the U.S. flying two B-1B supersonic bombers over South Korea on Saturday as a show of strength against North Korea, The Hill reported.

In a joint statement last Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup condemned recent North Korean military drills, further stating that any future nuclear weapon use is unacceptable and will result in the demise of the Kim Jong-un regime.

Pyongyang has warned the U.S. and South Korea that if nuclear weapons are used in response to the drills, they will “pay the most horrible price in history.”

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