By Cynthia Kim
SEOUL, Nov 5 (Reuters) – North Korea fired four short-range ballistic missiles into the Western Sea on Saturday, the South Korean military said, as Seoul and Washington wrapped up a high-profile six-day military exercise.
North Korea has launched a series of missiles this week, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile, drawing condemnation from the United States, South Korea and Japan, and fueling speculation that it may be preparing to resume testing. of nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017.
Saturday’s launches between 11:31 and 11:59 local time (0231-0259 GMT) come as the United States and South Korea wrap up the “Vigilant Storm” exercise they started on Monday.
The missiles flew about 130 km, reaching an altitude of about 20 km, Seoul said.
Some 240 military aircraft and two US B-1B strategic bombers, as well as four F-16 and four F-35A fighters, took part in the allied exercise, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It is the first time the B-1B has deployed to US-South Korea exercises since 2017, demonstrating “the combined defense capabilities and determination of the ROK and the United States to resolutely respond to any provocation by North Korea, and the willingness of the United States to implement a strong commitment to enhanced deterrence,” the joint chiefs said in a statement.
Pyongyang on Friday demanded that the United States and South Korea end their “provocative” air exercises. South Korea said it sent warplanes in response to 180 North Korean military flights near the border the two countries share on Friday.
On Wednesday, North Korea fired a daily record 23 missiles, one of which landed for the first time off South Korea’s coast, after Pyongyang threatened to take forceful action unless Washington halted its air exercises. allies with South Korea.
Throughout the week, Washington called a public meeting of the United Nations Security Council for Friday, in which it accused Russia and China of providing “general protection” to North Korea from further Security Council measures. .
A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement late on Friday warning that “sustained provocation will be followed by sustained counteraction,” according to state media KCNA.
In recent years, the Security Council has been divided on how to treat North Korea. In May, China and Russia vetoed a US attempt to impose more UN sanctions in response to North Korean missile launches.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing in Spanish by Ricardo Figueroa)