Kim Jong-un’s sister warns of turning the Pacific into a ‘proving ground’ after North Korea fires more missiles

North Korea fired two more ballistic missiles off its east coast on Monday as leader Kim Jong-un’s powerful sister warned US forces to end military exercises, saying a reclusive nuclear state could turn the Pacific into a “testing ground.”

The launches come just two days after North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea off Japan’s western coast, prompting the United States to hold joint air exercises with South Korea and separately with Japan on Sunday.

North Korea’s state media confirmed that it had fired two multiple launch rocket system rounds at targets 395 and 337 kilometers away, respectively.

“The 600-mm multiple launch rocket system involved in the shooting… is a tactical nuclear weapon” capable of “paralyzing” an enemy airfield, according to the state news agency TsTAK.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense said the two ballistic missiles, fired around 09:00 ET, reached a maximum altitude of about 100 and 50 kilometers, covering a distance of about 350-400 kilometers, before falling outside Japan’s EEZ.

There were no reports of damage to aircraft or ships.

The ministry said in a statement that it will continue to collect and analyze information in close cooperation with the United States.

“North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community,” the ministry said. “Japan strongly protested and strongly condemned North Korea.”

Rocket takeoff

Launch of the Hwaseong-17 ICBM from Pyongyang International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korea conducted two missile tests in as many days. Source: AARP / Photo courtesy of the North Korean government.

Tensions are rising

North Korean leader Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, warned of an increase in the presence of US strategic installations on the Korean Peninsula after the United States held joint air exercises with its Asian allies over the weekend.

“We are carefully studying the impact this will have on the security of our state,” the statement said. “The frequency of using the Pacific Ocean as a training ground depends on the nature of the actions of American troops.”

Kim Yo-jong also questioned experts’ assessment of her missile capabilities after some pointed out that the “sudden” missile launch ordered by leader Kim took more than nine hours and claimed that South Korea did not even fly reconnaissance aircraft. at the time of its launch.

“We have satisfactory technologies and capabilities, and now we will focus on increasing the number of their forces,” she said. “We reaffirm that our will is unwavering to make the worst maniacs who whip up tensions pay for their actions.”

Analysts say tensions in the region are expected to escalate further as South Korea and the United States plan a series of extended field exercises, including live firing, in the coming weeks and months.

The two countries are also set to hold a simulated nuclear exercise at the Pentagon on Wednesday, called a “deterrence strategy committee desk exercise.”

Pak Won Gun, a professor at Ewha Women’s University in Seoul, said Monday’s missile launch and announcement are in line with North Korea’s foreign ministry’s recent threat to take “unprecedentedly assertive and decisive” action in response to joint allied military exercises.

“North Korea appears to be trying to stoke tensions in the region and bolster its nuclear capability by raising the issue of exercises, and Kim Yo-jong’s statement signals that there will be more provocations,” Park said.

Monday’s missile launch is the North’s third major weapon test this year, after an unprecedented number of missiles were launched last year, including ICBMs capable of hitting anywhere in the United States.

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