North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking earlier this week. Alamy
missile launch

North Korea fires three missiles into Sea of Japan

It marks the end of a year of growing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

NORTH KOREA FIRED three short-range ballistic missiles overnight, Seoul’s military said, adding a final salvo to Pyongyang’s record-breaking number of launches this year.

Military tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in 2022 as the North has conducted sanctions-busting weapons tests nearly every month, including firing its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever.

The latest launch comes a day after South Korea successfully tested a solid-fuel space launch vehicle, and follows the incursion of five North Korean drones into the South’s airspace earlier in the week.

South Korea’s military said it had detected “three short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea into the East Sea from the area of Chunghwa County, North Hwanghae Province, at around 08:00 (2300 GMT)”, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.

The missiles flew about 350 kilometres before splashing down, it added.

Monday’s North Korean drone incursion was the first such incident in five years and prompted an apology from Seoul’s defence minister after the military failed to shoot down a single drone despite scrambling jets for a five-hour operation.

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol called the incident ”intolerable” and added that the South should ensure that Pyongyang realised that “provocations are always met with harsh consequences”.

Seoul’s military staged drills Thursday that the country’s top brass said would improve its defences against any future drone provocations.

And yesterday, South Korea successfully tested a new space launch vehicle as part of its drive to strengthen space-based reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, the defence ministry said.

Pyongyang earlier this month said it conducted an “important final-stage” test for the development of a reconnaissance satellite, claiming it had developed advanced technologies to take images from space.

North Korea is currently holding a major party meeting in Pyongyang at which Kim and other senior party officials are outlining their policy goals for 2023 in key areas including diplomacy, security and the economy.

© – AFP 2022

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