Seoul said at least three missiles were fired from Sunan, a Pyongyang suburb, toward the Sea of Japan at 6 a.m. (2100 GMT), 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m.
This salvo, one of the twenty fired so far by Pyongyang this year, provoked in response the firing of missiles and the mobilization of American and South Korean fighter planes, the two countries denouncing the continuous “provocations” of the North Korean diet.
Seoul denounced “an illegal act in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions”, the South Korean government said following a meeting of the National Security Council.
The United States also “condemned the DPRK’s multiple ballistic missile launches”, a US State Department spokesperson reacted late Tuesday, using the official name of North Korea and calling on Pyongyang “to refrain from further provocations and to engage in constructive substantive dialogue”.
“The first ballistic missile (the alleged ICBM) had a range of about 360km and an altitude of about 540km,” the South Korean general staff said in a statement.
The second ballistic missile “disappeared at an altitude of 20km” and the third projectile – a suspected short-range ballistic missile – traveled around 760km at an altitude of around 60km.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said one of the ballistic missiles followed “an irregular trajectory”.
Pyongyang is working on technology to maneuver the missiles after launch, including “hypersonic glide technology”, which would make it harder for missile defense systems to intercept.
The North Korean regime, under United Nations sanctions over its weapons programs, has accelerated its missile tests in recent months, blaming the “hostile” attitude of the United States.
He tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in March for the first time since 2017. And South Korean and American intelligence services suspect him of planning an imminent nuclear test, which would be his first in five years.
The trials were “clearly timed for President Biden’s return from his visit to South Korea and Japan,” said Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
During his stay in Seoul, the American president and his new South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol, according to the latter, mentioned an intensification of their joint military exercises, as well as the deployment in the peninsula of fighter planes or missiles, “to prepare for a nuclear attack”.
According to Mr. Park, the North Korean missile launches were intended to show “North Korea’s objections” to these announcements.
Shortly before leaving South Korea on Sunday for Japan, questioned by a journalist who asked him if he had a message for the North Korean leader, Joe Biden replied with a laconic: “Hello. Full stop”.
A way of making it known that Washington remains open to dialogue with North Korea, even in the absence of reciprocity.
Talks with Pyongyang have stalled since a failed summit in 2019 between Mr Kim and then-US President Donald Trump. The North Korean regime ignored all offers of dialogue made by Washington.
Seoul Foreign Minister Park Jin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on the phone after Wednesday’s launches, the foreign ministry said.
Both men said it was ‘deeply deplorable’ that North Korea ‘is using its main financial resources for nuclear weapon and missile development rather than quarantine and improving livelihoods of the population” in the Covid-19 epidemic which is hitting it.
During his trip to South Korea, Mr. Biden also indicated that Washington had offered to provide vaccines against Covid-19 to North Korea, but had “not received a response”.
Since the beginning of May, more than three million people have been affected by “fever”, according to the term used by the official media, and 68 have died from it in North Korea, according to the latest official report published on Wednesday.
The country, whose 25 million inhabitants are not vaccinated, has completely cut itself off from the world since the start of the pandemic to protect itself against the virus, but the outbreak of contamination with the Omicron variant in neighboring countries has ended up defeat this strategy.