North Korea launched yet another ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Thursday, South Korea’s military said, hours after the North threatened to launch “fiercer” military responses to the U.S. bolstering its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.
The launch of a short-range ballistic missile occurred at 10:48 a.m. local time Thursday into the East Sea, originating from the North Korean city of Wonsan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported.
Earlier Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hue warned that a recent U.S.-South Korea-Japan summit accord on the North would leave tensions on the Korean Peninsula “more unpredictable.”
Choe’s statement was North Korea’s first official response to President Biden’s trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Cambodia on Sunday. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence, while Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear arms.
Choe said the U.S.-South Korea-Japan summit will bring the situation on the Korean Peninsula to “a more unpredictable phase.”
“The keener the U.S. is on the ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence’ to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, the fiercer (North Korea’s) military counteraction will be, in direct proportion to it,” Choe said. “It will pose a more serious, realistic and inevitable threat to the U.S. and its vassal forces.”
Choe didn’t say what steps North Korea could take but said that “The U.S. will be well aware that it is gambling for which it will certainly regret.”
North Korea has steadfastly maintained its recent weapons testing activities are legitimate military counteractions to what it calls military drills between U.S. and South Korean forces, which it views as a practice to launch attacks on the North.
In late October, U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed to CBS News that North Korea is preparing to test an atomic weapon soon, in what would be its first nuclear test since 2017.
And earlier this month, North Korea fired dozens of missiles and flew warplanes toward the sea — triggering evacuation alerts in some South Korean and Japanese areas — in protest of massive U.S.-South Korean air force drills that the North views as an invasion rehearsal.
On Nov. 7, North Korea released a statement saying that its flurry of missile tests were practice to “mercilessly” strike key South Korean and U.S. targets, such as air bases and operation command systems.