Seoul: North Korea test-fires bal­lis­tic mis­siles into ocean

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS -

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea on Mon­day fired “sev­eral” banned bal­lis­tic mis­siles that flew about 620 miles into wa­ters off its east coast, South Korea’s mil­i­tary said, an ap­par­ent re­ac­tion to huge mil­i­tary drills by Wash- in­g­ton and Seoul that Py­ong- yang in­sists are an in­va­sion re­hearsal.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear what type of mis­sile was fired or the ex­act num­ber; Py­ong- yang has staged a se­ries of mis­sile test-launches of vari- ous ranges in re­cent months. The ramped-up tests come as leader Kim Jong Un pushes for a nu­clear and mis­sile pro­gram that can de­ter what he calls U.S. and South Korean hos­til­ity to­ward the North.

Seoul and Wash­ing­ton call their mil­i­tary drills on the Korean Penin­sula, which re­mains in a tech­ni­cal state of war be­cause the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an ar­mistice and not a peace treaty, de­fen­sive and rou­tine.

The South’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a state­ment that Mon­day’s launches were made from the Tongchang-ri area in North Py­on­gan prov­ince. The area is the home of the North’s Seo­hae Satel­lite Sta- tion where it has con­ducted pro­hib­ited long-range rocket launches in re­cent years.

The North hates the mil­i­tary drills, which run un­til late April and which an­a­lysts say force its im­pov­er­ished mil­i­tary to re­spond with ex­pen­sive de­ploy­ments and drills of their own.

North Korea test-launched a new in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile in Fe­bru­ary and con­ducted two nu­clear tests last year. There has also been wide­spread worry that the North will con­duct an ICBM test that, when per­fected, could in the­ory reach U.S. shores.

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