SEOUL, Nov 17 (Reuters) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Thursday, warning of a “heavier military response” to U.S. efforts to bolster its security presence with allies in the region, saying Washington was “working on A gamble it will regret””.
The South Korean military said the ballistic missile was launched from the North Korean east coast city of Wonsan at 10:48 a.m. (0248 GMT). It was the latest in a record number of such tests this year, and North Korea recently fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea, ahead of drills held by South Korea and the United States, some of which involved Japan.
The launch came less than two hours after North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui lashed out at the recent trilateral summit between the United States, South Korea and Japan, where the leaders criticized Pyongyang’s weapons tests and pledged to strengthen security cooperation.
During the talks, U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated his commitment to strengthening extended deterrence and defending the two Asian allies with a “full range of capabilities,” including nuclear weapons.
Choi said the three countries’ “aggressive war drills” failed to win in North Korea and instead brought “a more serious, more realistic and inevitable threat” to themselves.
“The more the U.S. is keen to ‘enhance and provide long-term deterrence’ to its allies, the more they intensify their provocative and bluffing military activities…the more violent North Korea’s military counterattacks will be,” Choi said in an official statement Said the Korean Central News Agency.
She refers to her country by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The U.S. will know very well that this is a gamble, and it will definitely regret it,” Cui added.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the trilateral summit and its cooperation on extended deterrence were aimed at countering North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
The U.S. has said since May that North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, but the exact timing is unclear.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo said in a joint statement after the summit that Pyongyang’s nuclear test would invite a “strong and resolute response”.
Choi said North Korea’s military activity was a “legitimate and just counterattack” to the U.S.-led drills.
South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, who is in charge of South Korea’s internal affairs, said North Korea might use China’s domestic political agenda to delay the nuclear test for a while.
“North Korea’s codification of its nuclear law in August also had some political effect, so it may not have an immediate need for a nuclear test,” Kwon said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency released on Thursday.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle
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