By Handan Kazanci
ISTANBUL (AA) – The US and South Korea fired a total of four ground-to-ground missiles into the East Sea in joint drills a day after North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile, Seoul’s military said Wednesday.
“The two sides each launched two Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles, which precisely hit mock targets and demonstrated the allies' capability to deter further provocations,” Seoul-based news agency Yonhap reported, citing a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff.
On Tuesday, the US Department of Defense said the county conducted separate military exercises with Japan and South Korea in response to North Korea's long-range ballistic missile launch.
"The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from further unlawful and destabilizing acts," said Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name
On Tuesday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said North Korea launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile which could fly in the direction of Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures in northern Japan and warned people to seek shelter.
The ministry later said that the missile had already fallen. It marked the first time that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese archipelago in five years.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile flew 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles), the longest distance ever for an intermediate-range or longer missile fired by North Korea, reaching at an altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
“The missile flew over Japan for around one minute and landed outside the country's exclusive economic zone some 3,200 km east of the nation in the Pacific Ocean,” Hamada said.
Last Saturday, North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
North Korea's escalation of tensions is thought to be in response to a joint military drill by South Korea, the US and Japan in the East Sea.
Tensions on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang "further worsens the situation."
However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.