SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) — The launch of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), believed to be the Hwasong-17, apparently ended in failure Thursday, according to a South Korean defense source, while the North’s regime chairman of the Korean Defense Committee state affairs, Kim Jong-un has stepped up his threats, especially due to large-scale joint air exercises between Seoul and Washington.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the ICBM was launched from Pyongyang’s Sunan area around 7:40 a.m. and flew about 760 kilometers to a maximum altitude of about 1,920 kilometers at a top speed of Mach 15.
However, after the second separation stage, the missile appears to have failed to fly normally, the source said later, on background, adding that the missile appeared to be a Hwasong-17.
It is the seventh ICBM launch by North Korea this year and the first since late May.
The JCS also said it detected the firing of two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from Kaechon in southern Pyongan province that began at approximately 8:39 am.
They flew about 330 kilometers at a maximum height of about 70 kilometers, with a maximum speed of Mach 5.
North Korea is seen once again trying to increase its military power in protest against a major five-day air drill launched by Seoul and Washington on Monday.
However, continued major provocations from Pyongyang caused the Allies to extend the Vigilant Storm exercise.
South Korea’s air force announced the decision hours after the launch of a North Korean ICBM, without immediately announcing a new end date for the exercise. He noted that the Allies were holding consultations on the details.
Meanwhile, Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, head of South Korea’s JCS, and Gen. Paul LaCamera, head of US forces in South Korea, held virtual consultations and reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the allies’ joint defense posture against any North Korean threat or provocation.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that Washington condemns these actions and calls on North Korea to refrain from further illegal and destabilizing actions. He added that US commitments to the defense of Seoul and Tokyo remain “uncompromising”.
The provocations came a day after the North launched more than 20 missiles, the largest one-day barrage ever. One of them flew south across the de facto inter-Korean maritime border for the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
Seoul and Washington have mobilized more than 240 aircraft, including stealth fighters, for the Vigilant Storm exercise over South Korea.
Pyongyang has long denounced joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington as a rehearsal for an invasion. The two allies point out that the exercises are of a defensive nature.
Pak Jong-chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), warned on Wednesday that Seoul and Washington would pay “the most terrible price in history” if they decided to attack the North.
North Korea’s foreign ministry also threatened the United States on Tuesday to take “stronger follow-up measures” against what it called Washington’s “ruthless and reckless” military provocations.