The United States and South Korea launched four missiles off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday morning, in response to North Korea’s provocative test launch of a ballistic missile over Japan.
This test was the allies’ second exercise within 24 hours, following North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday morning, CNN reported. Earlier, on Tuesday, the US and South Korea initially responded to the launch with a precision bombing exercise, which involved a South Korean F-15K fighter jet firing two air-to-surface munitions at a virtual target in a firing range west of the Korean Peninsula, per the South Korean joint chiefs.
“Through the combined flight of the air strike package and precision strike drills, South Korea and the United States demonstrated their will to respond sternly to any Northern threats as well as their capabilities to conduct a precision strike at the origin of provocations based on the alliance’s overwhelming forces,” the JCS said in a press release.
The allies typically respond to missile tests by North Korea with military exercises, according to CNN.
According to CNN citing South Korean joint chiefs, in Wednesday’s launch, four ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems) missiles were involved. The ATACMS are surface-to-surface missiles that can fly around 200 miles (320 kilometres).
According to John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, the launch was designed to demonstrate that the US and their allies have “the military capabilities at the ready to respond to provocations by the North.”
“This is not the first time we’ve done this in response to provocations by the North to make sure that we can demonstrate our own capabilities,” Kirby as quoted by CNN.
“We want to see the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, (North Korean leader Kim Jong Un) hasn’t shown an inclination to move in that direction, quite frankly he’s moving in the opposite direction by continuing to conduct these missile tests which are violations of Security Council resolutions,” he added.
Tuesday’s missile launch was the first such missile launch in years, prompting a warning for residents to take cover in northern Japan.
Last week, North Korea fired missiles in an apparent protest against joint naval drills involving the United States and South Korea. Under the Kim Jong-un regime, North Korea this year has tested a record number of missiles as it expands its weapons arsenal.