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North Korea launched two ballistic missiles towards its eastern waters on Thursday, as the US redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to the North’s recent launch of a powerful missile over Japan. Photo: AP

North Korea continues missile launches, criticises US carrier move

  • Launch came soon after North Korea condemned the US for redeploying an aircraft carrier to waters near the Korean peninsula, saying it escalated tensions
  • Further provocations may be coming as the US, Japan and South Korea said Pyongyang may be ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years
North Korea
North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles towards waters off its east coast on Thursday, adding to one of its largest barrage of tests under leader Kim Jong-un that included its first launch of a rocket over Japan in five years.
The launch came soon after North Korea condemned the Biden administration for redeploying the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group to waters east of the peninsula, saying the move escalated tensions. The group first arrived in the South Korean port of Busan in late September and conducted drills that included Japan and South Korea – a move that Pyongyang protested.
“The DPRK is watching the US posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity by redeploying the carrier task force in the waters off the Korean peninsula,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on state media, referring to the country’s formal name.

In September, North Korea revised its nuclear laws, with leader Kim Jong-un declaring his country an “irreversible” nuclear power.


Fire caused by failed South Korean missile test sparks fears of attack from North

Fire caused by failed South Korean missile test sparks fears of attack from North

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea appeared to have test-fired two short-range missiles from an area near Pyongyang at 6.01 and 6.23am. The first missile reached an altitude of about 100km (60 miles) and travelled 350km while the second reached an altitude of 50km and flew about 800km, Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters.

The aircraft carrier group was redeployed on Wednesday to waters between South Korea and Japan, Yonhap News Agency reported, making a rare U-turn that came as Kim has launched about 10 missiles in less than two weeks.

Japan, South Korea and the US are set for more joint military drills on Thursday, South Korean broadcaster SBS reported. North Korea has bristled for decades against joint exercises with the US, calling them a prelude to an invasion and nuclear war.

Further provocations may be coming, as the US, Japan and South Korea said Pyongyang may be ready to conduct its first nuclear test in five years – with the three pledging a stern and united response if there’s a blast.

China, North Korea on agenda at long-awaited Seoul-Tokyo defence talks

The missile that flew over Japan on Tuesday was a suspected Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that travelled about 4,600km, representing the longest-range weapon fired by North Korea since May. It also hearkened back to autumn 2017 when Kim’s regime unleashed its largest barrage of long-range rockets and detonated a nuclear bomb.

That prompted then-US President Donald Trump to threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea and led the United Nations to impose some of its toughest sanctions to punish Kim. The North Korean leader has ignored Biden’s calls to return to disarmament talks and has fired off ballistic missiles in defiance of a United Nations ban.
The provocations are likely to add to global anxiety over nuclear sabre-rattling as Russian President Vladimir Putin alludes to his atomic arsenal while attempting to bolster his struggling invasion of Ukraine. America’s push to isolate Russia over the war – coupled with increasing tensions between Washington and Beijing – has allowed Kim to strengthen his nuclear deterrent without fear of new UN sanctions.
Russia and China vetoed a US-drafted sanctions resolution against North Korea at the UN Security Council in May and there’s almost no chance of them supporting measures like they did in 2017. Mainland China fired its own ballistic missiles over Taiwan in August to protest US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

Additional reporting be Agence France-Presse