Pyongyang had warned on Friday that she would react with “unprecedented” force to the new military maneuvers joined for the United States and South Korea scheduled for next week.
MO12345lemonde with AFP
North Korea launched at least one unidentified ballistic missile on Saturday, February 18, the South Korean army announced. This managed “towards [the] East sea,” said the South Korean joint staff, in reference to the name given to the Japan Sea.
The North Korean missile has apparently damaged in the exclusive economic zone (ZEE) in Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said. “It seems that the ballistic missile fired by North Korea fell into the ZEE of Japan, west of Hokkaido,” Kishida told journalists. An official of the Japanese Ministry of Defense had previously declared that the missile was to fall around 200 km west of the island of Oshima, off the northern island of Hokkaido.
This shot occurs when the United States and South Korea are preparing to carry out simulation exercises, which must be held next week in Washington, in order to discuss the measures to be taken in the event of use nuclear weapon by Pyongyang. The day before, North Korea threatened to react to the American-South-Korean maneuvers to come, seeing the preparations for an armed conflict. If the two allies carry out these exercises, “they will face strong and unprecedented countermeasures (…),” a spokesperson for Pyongyang diplomacy said in a statement.
The year 2022 was marked by a strong renewed tension in the peninsula. The parenthesis of relative appeasement initiated in 2018 by the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in (2017-2022), which was marked by the summits of 2018 and 2019 between Kim Jong-Un and the President of the United States, Donald Trump (2017-2021), seems to be closed definitively.
From the beginning of 2022, the Northern leader called for “strengthening national defense capacities”. The war in Ukraine, launched in February, and the election, in March 2022, of the curator Yoon Seok-Youl to the South Korean presidency confirmed it in this choice. Pyongyang gives unfailing support to Moscow in his war against kyiv. The regime recognized the annexation by Russia of the Ukrainian territories and would have provided Moscow 100,000 shells. In exchange, Vladimir Putin spoke of economic and military aid to the north.
The arrival of Yoon Seok-Youl in power in Seoul, elected on the promise of a firmness policy vis-à-vis the North, a strengthening of the Alliance with the United States and A rapprochement with Japan also convinced Pyongyang to tighten his positions. All the joint military maneuvers between the United States and South Korea exasperated Pyongyang, who considers them as the repetition of a possible invasion and has often responded with threats and exercises on his side.