North Korea has test-fired a record number of missiles this year, claiming that the launches are a response to drills on South Korea’s side of the peninsula. Meanwhile, South Korea and its allies are afraid that North Korea is getting ready for its first nuclear weapons test since 2017.
On Wednesday, according to the South Korean military, North Korea launched the highest number of short-range missiles in one day. The country fired at least 23 missiles of different types both east and west of the Korean Peninsula. One of these missiles was a short-range ballistic missile that landed closer to South Korea’s coast than anything has since the Korean War, breaching the Northern Limit Line – the maritime border that North Korea doesn’t recognize.
In response, South Korea launched three missiles from fighter jets on the same day. The air force targeted international waters by North Korea at about the same distance as the North Korean missile had landed by South Korea.
“North Korea has rapidly escalated its provocations, launching more than a dozen missiles today alone and reportedly firing more than 100 artillery shells into the Japan sea since announcing an extremely provocative statement earlier in the day,” said Toshiro Ino, Japan’s deputy minister of defense.
“We reject the notion that they serve as any sort of provocation. We have made clear that we have no hostile intent towards [North Korea] and call on them to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said late Tuesday.
“North Korea firing missiles in a way that sets off air raid sirens appears intended to threaten South Koreans to pressure their government to change policy … North Korea’s expanding military capabilities and tests are worrisome, but offering concessions about alliance cooperation or nuclear recognition would make matters worse,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.