North Korea fired at least one “unspecified ballistic missile” on Saturday, Seoul’s military said, just days after five Pyongyang drones flew across the shared border and into the south’s airspace.
Military tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen sharply this year as the North carried out unprecedented weapons tests, including last month’s launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile ever.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Saturday, “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile into the East Sea.”
Monday’s intrusions by drones – one of which flew close to the capital Seoul – prompted the South’s military to deploy fighter jets and attack helicopters.
But despite a five-hour operation, the army failed to shoot down a single drone, prompting widespread criticism over the response and an apology from the country’s defense minister.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said that the incident was “intolerable” and said that the South should ensure that Pyongyang realizes that “provocations are always met with harsh consequences”.
Seoul’s military held exercises Thursday that the country’s top officials said would improve its defenses against any future drone provocations.
On Monday, for the first time in five years, a North Korean drone flew over the South’s airspace.
– Party meeting –
Earlier this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he wanted his country to have the world’s most powerful nuclear power and declared the North an “irreversible” nuclear state.
North Korea is currently holding a major party meeting in Pyongyang with Kim and other senior party officials outlining their policy goals for 2023 in key areas including diplomacy, security and the economy.
On Wednesday, Kim set out “new major goals” for the country’s military, state media reported at the time, without giving any details.
North Korea’s year-end plenary meetings are typically used by the regime to unveil the country’s domestic and foreign policy priorities for the coming year.
It is expected that the full details of the current plenary session will be announced after it gets over.
While Kim focused on the economy in the 2021 plenary, analysts widely expect a change in tone to highlight the military front this year in light of a recent blitz of missile launches.
In previous years, Kim had given a speech every January 1, but he recently abandoned the tradition in favor of making the announcement at the plenary meeting at the end of the year.
The United States and South Korea have warned for months that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.
North Korea has been subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions since 2006 over its nuclear and missile activity.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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