North Korea fired the largest number of short-range missiles in a single day as Seoul retaliated against Pyongyang’s latest series of weapons tests, South Korea’s military said on Wednesday, further escalating tensions in the region.
North Korea fired as many as 23 missiles of different types, including a surface-to-air missile, into the eastern and western coastal waters of the Korean peninsula, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. .
One of the missiles fired by Pyongyang, a short-range ballistic missile, landed near South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the division in 1945, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in Seoul said.
The JCS said the missile landed in international waters 167 kilometers (104 miles) northwest of South Korea’s Ulleungdo Island and about 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) — the de facto inter-Korean maritime border that North Korea does not recognize.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said North Korea carried out another launch late on Wednesday, including at least one ballistic missile fired eastward that had landed in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
On Wednesday evening local time, Japanese Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters that the ballistic missile flew a short distance at an altitude of less than 50 kilometers at its highest altitude.
“North Korea has rapidly escalated its provocations, firing more than a dozen missiles today alone, and has reportedly fired more than 100 shells into the Sea of Japan since its highly provocative announcement earlier in the day,” Ino said.
So far, no damage to the plane or boat has been confirmed.
Asked if North Korea had fired so many missiles in a single day in the past, Ino told reporters that in 2006 and 2009, North Korea fired all day from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time and 8 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. Several missiles were fired in the afternoon local time, respectively, without mentioning the exact number of missiles.
A South Korean defense official earlier said the missiles landed in the Yellow Sea west of the peninsula, known in South Korea as the West Sea, and eastward in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East China Sea.
air raid warning Ulleungdo, about 120 kilometers east of the peninsula, lifted off at around 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday. South Korean President Yoon Sek-yeol said North Korea’s test was an “effective territorial invasion.”
During an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), Yoon “ordered a swift and severe response so that North Korea’s provocation would pay a clear price,” according to the South Korean presidential office.
In an immediate response, South Korea fired three air-to-surface missiles from F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets on Wednesday morning, according to the JCS.
The JCS said the South Korean air force targeted the international waters north of the northern boundary at the same distance as the North Korean missile earlier landed south of the northern boundary.
“Our military’s precision strikes demonstrate our resolute willingness to respond to any North Korean provocation, including short-range ballistic missiles, and our ability and readiness to precisely target the enemy,” the JCS said.
The JCS added that North Korea “takes full responsibility” for the situation, as they are the ones who continue to provoke despite warnings.
On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that North Korea was firing missiles at an “unprecedented frequency.”
Kishida also called for a meeting of the National Security Council as soon as possible amid escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“North Korea’s unprecedented launch of multiple ballistic missiles is recklessly threatening the security of the Republic of Korea,” said Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong. tweet on Wednesday.
“Pyongyang must stop this action,” she added.
Moscow has urged North and South Korea to refrain from measures that “could spark further tensions” as it grapples with a breakdown in global relations amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
“The situation on the peninsula is already very tense and we urge everyone to remain calm and avoid measures that could trigger further increases,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, condemned North Korea’s unprecedented overnight missile launch.
Thomas Greenfield told CNN this morning, along with Don Lemmon, Kaitlan Collins and Bobby Harlow, that the launch violated “multiple Security Council resolutions” and said the United Nations would inform China and Russia “Pressure” to improve and strengthen such sanctions.
She declined to say whether U.S. President Joe Biden would raise the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20, but added that it was “the president’s idea.”
The launch was North Korea’s 29th this year, according to CNN, after North Korean officials warned in a statement earlier Wednesday that the United States and South Korea would pay “historically” for any military action against North Korea. The most terrible price.” Pyongyang.
The aggressive acceleration of weapons testing and rhetoric has sparked panic in the region, with the United States, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.
On Monday, the U.S. and South Korea began a large-scale military exercise called “Vigilance Storm”.
The exercises involved 240 aircraft and “thousands of service members” from both countries, according to the US Department of Defense.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to meet South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sub at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Experts have previously told CNN that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may deliberately display the country’s arsenal to send a message amid heightened global conflict.
Last month, North Korean state media broke its six-month silence on a spate of missile tests this year, saying the tests were designed to show Pyongyang was ready to fire tactical nuclear warheads on potential targets in the south.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned last week that Pyongyang may be preparing for a nuclear test — the first since 2017 — with satellite images showing activity at its underground nuclear test site, the most recent of which was conducted after this.
“We’re watching this very, very closely. We hope it doesn’t happen, but unfortunately the signs are going in the other direction,” Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said last Thursday.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that this is not the first time North and South Korea have fired missiles from their respective coasts and to reflect that North Korea has fired many different types of missiles and distances from NLL kilometers.