South Korea, US launch eight missiles  

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North Korea’s short-range ballistic missiles, fired toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday, were likely its largest single test and came a day after South Korea and the United States ended joint military drills…reports Asian Lite News

South Korea and the United States fired eight surface-to-surface missiles early on Monday off South Korea’s east coast after North Korea launched a barrage of short range ballistic missiles, a South Korea defense ministry official said.

The action is a demonstration of “the capability and readiness to carry out precision strike” against the source of North Korea’s missile launches or the command and support centers, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited the South Korean military as saying.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last month, has vowed to take a tougher line against the North and agreed with US President Joe Biden at a May summit in Seoul to upgrade joint military drills and their combined deterrence posture.

The militaries of South Korea and the United States fired eight surface-to-surface missiles over a period of about 10 minutes starting 4:45 a.m. on Monday in response to the eight missiles fired by the North on Sunday, Yonhap reported.

An official from South Korea’s Defense Ministry confirmed eight Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) had been fired.

North Korea’s short-range ballistic missiles, fired toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday, were likely its largest single test and came a day after South Korea and the United States ended joint military drills.

North Korea, which is several weeks into battling its first known outbreak of COVID-19, has criticized previous joint drills as an example of Washington’s continued “hostile policies” toward Pyongyang, despite its talk of diplomacy.

North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile launches this year, from hypersonic weapons to test firing its largest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) for the first time in nearly five years.

Washington and Seoul officials also recently warned that North Korea appeared ready to resume nuclear weapons tests for the first time since 2017.

Last month, North Korea fired three missiles including one thought to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, after Biden ended an Asia trip where he agreed to new measures to deter the nuclear-armed state.

The combined forces of South Korea and the United States fired missiles in response to those tests too, which the two allies say are violations of UN Security Council resolutions.

Yoon vows firm, stern response

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday vowed to respond firmly and sternly to any North Korean provocation as Seoul and Washington fired missiles in response to the Pyongyang’s missile launches the previous day.

Yoon made the remark during a Memorial Day ceremony held at Seoul National Cemetery, a day after North Korea fired eight short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) into the East Sea in its third show of force since the President took office last month, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Even at this moment, North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats are getting sophisticated,” he said, referring to Sunday’s tests.

“North Korea’s nuclear and missile (programs) are reaching the level of threatening not only peace on the Korean Peninsula but also in Northeast Asia and the world.”

Yoon said his administration will deter the nuclear and missile threats while also building a “more fundamental and practical security capability. Our government will respond firmly and sternly to any North Korean provocation. We will make sure there isn’t a single crack in protecting the lives and property of our people.”

Yoon has taken a tougher stance on North Korea than his predecessor, Moon Jae-in, whose attempts to build peace through talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un failed to stop the regime from advancing its weapons programs.

The President’s remark came shortly after South Korea and the US launched the ground-to-ground Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles from an eastern coastal region in Gangwon province starting at 4.45 a.m. for around 10 minutes.

North Korea’s Sunday launches is presumed to have involved a variety of SRBMs, including the KN-23 missile modeleld after Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile.

The KN-23 is known for its “pull-up manoeuver”, designed to avoid interception.

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