Home Awareness North Korea fires multiple ballistic missiles during Blinken’s visit to South Korea
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North Korea fires multiple ballistic missiles during Blinken’s visit to South Korea

The shootings coincide with the visit of the head of American diplomacy, who arrived the evening before in Seoul, and also come a few days after the end of joint American-South Korean military exercises.

The South Korean military said it had “detected around 7:44 a.m. (10:44 p.m. GMT) the launch of what appears to be multiple short-range ballistic missiles,” which traveled some 300 kilometers before crashing into the South Korean sea. East, also known as the Sea of Japan. “We share relevant information with the United States and Japan and stand ready to intervene,” added the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The shootings coincide with the visit of the head of American diplomacy, who arrived the previous evening in Seoul. He met South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Monday morning, according to his entourage, and participated in the third “Summit for Democracy” on Monday.

They also come a few days after the end of joint American-South Korean military exercises. “These launches, like previous ballistic missile launches in recent years, are in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” a State Department spokesperson said, emphasizing that these launches “threaten » North Korea’s neighbors and “undermining regional security.” “Our commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea remains unwavering,” the spokesperson added.

According to the Japanese press, three short-range ballistic missiles were fired, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemning “repeated and very frequent” weapons tests by the North. This “series of actions threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region and the international community. We do not tolerate it,” he added. These ballistic missile launches are the second by Pyongyang in 2024, after that, on January 14, of a machine equipped with a hypersonic warhead.

Antony Blinken landed in South Korea on Sunday to participate in the third “Summit for Democracy”, an initiative by United States President Joe Biden, and which Seoul is hosting from Monday to Wednesday. Government officials, NGOs and members of civil society are present. The American Secretary of State was also to discuss with his South Korean counterpart Cho Tae-yul a strengthening of the alliance between Washington and Seoul, as part of a policy of “extended deterrence” against the North.

“High price”


On Thursday, Seoul and Washington ended their annual large-scale “Freedom Shield” exercises, including missile interception and air assaults. The number of troops participating was doubled compared to 2023. Pyongyang warned in early March that the United States and South Korea would pay a “high price” for these maneuvers before announcing that Kim Jong-Un had overseen a large-scale artillery exercise including, he said, border units “which brought the enemy’s capital within their reach.”

“This is a very calculated maneuver on the part of Pyongyang, firing several missiles shows that it is capable of such an act even when the highest American diplomat is on the spot”, indicated to AFP the Professor Choi Gi-il, specialist in military studies at Sangii University. North Korea usually launches missiles “as a response” after joint exercises between the United States and South Korea, said Han Kwon-hee of the Korea Association of Industry Studies. of the defense.

Seoul is a key ally of Washington in the region. The United States is stationing some 27,000 American troops in South Korea to help protect itself against the nuclear-armed North. Coming to power in 2022, conservative South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has strengthened his ties with the White House and sought to move closer to Japan, a former colonial power on the Korean peninsula, in the face of threats from Pyongyang. Since the start of the year, Pyongyang has designated Seoul as its “main enemy”, closed agencies dedicated to reunification and inter-Korean dialogue and threatened to go to war for any violation of its territory “even if only of 0.001 millimeter.

After Seoul, Antony Blinken must go to the Philippines, to provide support to an ally struggling with Beijing’s desires in the South China Sea.

This article is originally published on lefigaro.fr

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