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Pyongyang fires medium-range ballistic missiles

Posted December. 19, 2022 07:43,   

Updated December. 19, 2022 07:43


North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) toward the East Sea in the Dongchang-ri area in North Pyongan Province on Sunday, just two days after it claimed that it tested a high-thrust solid-fuel engine that can be used in an intercontinental ballistic missile. Given this, South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities suspected a new type of MRBM was test-fired based on this solid-fuel engine. Some experts interpreted this firing as a way of opposing Japan, having revised its national security strategy on Friday to allow for a preemptive attack on North Korea’s ballistic missile units in case of emergency.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) detected North Korea’s firing of two MRBMs flying 500 kilometers at a high angle into the East Sea from the Dongchang-ri area between 11:13 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. on Sunday. MRBMs can usually fly 1,000 to 3,000 kilometers to reach not only any part of the Korean Peninsula but also U.S. Armed Forces bases in Japan, including the bases in Okinawa.

Seoul and Washington have closely looked at the place where the MRBMs were launched, considering that North Korea claimed its successful test on a high-thrust solid-fuel engine in the Seohae Satellite Launch Station last Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in attendance. It is speculated that Pyongyang tested a solid-fuel MRBM on its way to the final stage of developing a solid-fuel ICBM. It has traditionally adopted a liquid-fuel system for medium- or longer-range ballistic missiles.

National Security Adviser Kim Sung Han held a National Security Council on the day, strongly condemning North Korea’s firing of ballistic missiles violates the U.N Security Council resolutions and poses a critical threat to regional peace and safety. Presidential vice spokesperson Lee Jae-myung announced that the NSC focused on the recent series of Pyongyang’s military threats and the solid-fuel engine test, criticizing the regime for developing nuclear and missile programs and carrying out provocations from generation to generation, which will only jeopardize its existence and bring justice to those accountable.

Su-Young Hong gaea@donga.com