North Koreans cheer missile launch in bizarre propaganda film
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Mr Biden was in Asia where he agreed to new measures to deter the nuclear-armed state. According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the three missiles were fired in less than an hour from the Sunan area of the North’s capital, Pyongyang, where its international airport has become a hub of missile tests.
The first missile launched on Wednesday appeared to be an ICBM, while a second unidentified missile appears to have failed mid-flight, the JCS said.
The third missile was a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), it said.
Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s new President, presided over the meeting and ordered officials to take agreed steps to strengthen US deterrence, according to his office.
In a separate government statement, South Korea also said it had “strong and effective” responses ready to deal with any North Korea provocations.
The JCS said in a statement: “Our military’s show of force was intended to highlight our resolve to firmly respond to any North Korean provocations, including an ICBM launch, and our overwhelming capability and readiness to conduct a surgical strike on the origin of the provocation.”
In response, the United States and South Korea held combined live-fire drills, including surface-to-surface missile tests involving the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) of the US and the South’s Hyunmoo-2 SRBM, both militaries said.
North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile launches this year, from hypersonic weapons to test firing its largest ICBMs for the first time in nearly five years.
It also appears to be preparing for what would be its first nuclear test since 2017, reports suggest.
US and South Korean officials had recently warned that North Korea appeared ready for another weapons test, possibly during Mr Biden’s visit, which was his first trip to Asia as President and included a summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul.
President Suk-yeol, who took office on May 10, convened his first meeting of the national security council, which strongly condemned the latest launch as a “grave provocation”, especially as it came before Biden returned home.
President Suk-yeol ordered the aides to strengthen the US extended deterrence and combined defence posture as agreed with Biden, his office said.
President Suk-yeol’s government said in a separate statement: “North Korea’s continued provocations will only result in even stronger, faster South Korea-US deterrence, and bring deeper isolation upon itself.”
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A White House official said that Mr Biden, who departed Japan on Tuesday evening, had been briefed on the launches and would continue to receive updates.
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