Seoul, South Korea Eureka News Now —
North Korea tested a ballistic missile on Thursday as it warned the United States of “intensified military counteraction” against Washington’s strengthened defense ties with South Korea and Japan amid rising regional tensions.
In a statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said the US stepping up enhanced deterrence towards allies in the region is “a gamble they will surely regret.”
The larger the US defense presence in the region, “the heavier the (North Korean) military counter-action will be, in direct proportion to it,” Choe said. “The US will be aware that they are gambling, which they will surely regret,” Choe added.
The KCNA statement said the warning is in response to the trilateral summit between the US, South Korea and Japan on Sunday during the ASEAN Summit. At the meeting, US President Joe Biden reiterated his commitment to stepping up enhanced deterrence and defending South Korea and Japan with a “full spectrum of capabilities,” including nuclear weapons.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have steadily increased this year, with South Korea and the US responding to the Pyongyang missile tests by stepping up joint drills and military exercises, as well as their own missile tests.
Choe said recent large-scale joint military exercises between the US and its allies have “failed to stem” North Korea’s counter-action.
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On Thursday, South Korea’s chiefs of staff said North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile from the Wonsan area of Kangwon province at around 10:48 a.m. local time, which landed in waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula. It added that the South Korean military has increased surveillance and is working closely with the United States.
Japan’s top cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Thursday that Tokyo continues to “gather and analyze the necessary information and closely monitor North Korea’s military trends in close cooperation with the United States and South Korea.”
This is the 33rd day this year that North Korea has conducted a missile test, according to a Eureka News Now tally. The tally includes both ballistic and cruise missiles. In contrast, it conducted just four tests in 2020 and eight in 2021.
The US and international observers have been warning for months that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the nuclear test site. Such a test would be the hermit nation’s first in five years.