South Korea said that North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic missiles off of its east coast on Sunday. This comes just a few days after Japan committed to more than increase its military expenditures in an effort to better protect itself against the mounting dangers posed by China and North Korea.
The missiles were North Korea’s first test launches since the nation tested its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, on November 18.
The two missiles were fired from Tongchang-ri, which is the same location that North Korea’s official media said its leader, Kim Jong-un, was there on Thursday to observe a ground test of a solid-fuel ICBM booster rocket. This was the first test of its sort ever conducted in the nation.
It was not obvious if the missiles that were fired on Sunday had anything to do with the technology related to solid-fuel missile engines that North Korea has been testing. Liquid fuel is used in the majority of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. The nation has been working on transitioning to solid fuel, which, according to experts, makes missiles less difficult to carry and allows them to be launched more quickly.
On Monday, North Korea responded to South Korea’s interpretation of the events of the previous day by stating that it had launched a rocket as part of its preparations to deploy a military reconnaissance satellite by April. This statement was made in response to the South’s claim that it had done so. The Korean Central News Agency, which is operated by the North’s government, has published aerial photographs that it claims were obtained by a camera that was installed aboard the rocket.
Similar assertions were made by North Korea after the launching of what was referred to be a ballistic missile by both the United States and South Korea on February 27 and March 5 off of North Korea’s east coast. But it turned out that those earlier flights were really rocket tests in preparation for a series of intercontinental ballistic missile launches, including the ones that took place on March 24, November 3, and November 18.
According to the South Korean military, the two missiles that were launched by North Korea on Sunday travelled barely 510 kilometres (310 miles) to the east before crashing into the oceans that separate North Korea and Japan. However, it was said that the missiles were fired at purposely steep angles in order to cause them to go fewer distances than they were intended to. They were categorised as medium-range ballistic missiles by South Korea, which means that their typical range is between 620 and 1,860 miles.
When launched from North Korea, missiles of this kind would be capable of reaching most or all of Japan.
The United States maintains a military presence in Japan, making that country a potential participant in any future confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. Both in 2017 and again in October, North Korea launched missiles that flew over Japan, demonstrating that it is capable of launching ballistic missiles against Japan and that it is proud of this capacity.
According to the Kyodo news agency, Japan’s senior deputy defence minister, Toshiro Ino, informed reporters that Japan protested the North Korean launches through its embassy in Beijing. This was done in response to the launches that took place on Sunday.
Japan updated its national security strategy for the first time in nine years, citing the growing threats from China, North Korea, and Russia, and vowing to double the amount of money earmarked for military spending. The missile tests conducted by the North came just two days after Japan made these announcements.
New plans for its military expansion called for the nominally peaceful nation of Japan to obtain counterstrike capabilities, such as missiles that, in the event of an assault, might be deployed to target facilities located in territory controlled by the adversary.
Japan intends to acquire around one thousand missiles, beginning with Tomahawks manufactured in the United States and ultimately transitioning to its own weapon systems.
North Korea’s latest military operations were labelled a “imminent danger” in the country’s newly released national security papers.
The United Nations Security Council has passed a number of resolutions that prohibit North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile or nuclear weapons technologies. Despite these resolutions, North Korea has launched at least 90 ballistic missiles and other types of missiles this year, which is more than in any year in the country’s history.