N. Korea fires 3 missiles amid tensions over drone flights

Dec 30, 2022, 1:25 AM | Updated: Dec 31, 2022, 3:50 am
A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's rocket with the test satellite during a news progra...

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's rocket with the test satellite during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022. North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Saturday, the latest in a barrage of weapons tests this year that came days after it increased tensions by allegedly flying drones into South Korean airspace. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters in its latest weapons display on Saturday, a day after rival South Korea conducted a rocket launch related to its push to build a space-based surveillance to better monitor the North.

Tensions between the rival Koreas rose this week when South Korea accused North Korea of flying five drones across the tense border for the first time in five years and responded by sending its own drones toward the North.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement it detected the three launches from an inland area south of Pyongyang, the North’s capital, on Saturday morning. It said the three missiles traveled about 350 kilometers (220 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The estimated range suggests the missiles tested could target South Korea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launches “a grave provocation” that undermines international peace. It said South Korea maintains a readiness to “overwhelmingly” deter any provocation by North Korea.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launches highlight “the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs and that the U.S. commitments to the defense of South Korea and Japan “remain ironclad.” Earlier Saturday, Japan’s Defense Ministry also reported suspected ballistic missile firings by North Korea.

South Korea’s military on Monday scrambled warplanes and helicopters, but they failed to shoot down any of the North Korean drones before they flew back home or vanished from South Korean radar. One of the North Korean drones traveled as far as northern Seoul, triggering security jitters among many people in the South.

South Korea still flew three of its surveillance drones across the border on Monday in an unusual tit-for-tat. South Korea on Thursday staged large-scale military drills to simulate shooting down drones.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has called for boosting his country’s air defense network and vowed to sternly deal with provocations by North Korea.

Since taking office in May, Yoon’s government has expanded regular military drills with the U.S. in the face of increasing North Korean nuclear threats. North Korea has called such drills an invasion rehearsal and argued its recent missile tests were its response. But some experts say North Korea is using the South Korea-U.S. training as a pretext to modernize its arsenal and increase its leverage in future dealings with the U.S.

Before Saturday’s launches, North Korea had already test-fired more than 70 missiles this year. Many of them were nuclear-capable weapons designed to attack the U.S. mainland and its allies South Korea and Japan.

Later Saturday, senior diplomats from South Korea, Japan and the United States jointly denounced the North’s launches after a phone call. They agreed to reinforce their deterrence against North Korea and work together to achieve the North’s denuclearization, according to the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministries.

On Friday, South Korea test- launched a solid-fueled rocket, a type of a space launch vehicle that it plans to use to put its first spy satellite into orbit in coming years.

Defense officials said it was a follow-up test of the country’s first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket in March. The unannounced launch triggered a brief public scare of a UFO appearance or a North Korean missile.

North Korea is also pushing to acquire its first military surveillance satellite. Earlier this month, it said it used two old missiles as space launch vehicles to test a camera and other systems needed for a spy satellite and later released low-resolution satellite photos showing South Korean cities.

Some South Korean experts said the North Korean satellite imagery was too crude for military reconnaissance purposes and that the North Korean rocket launches were likely a disguised test of missile technology. Infuriated over such an assessment, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued crude insults against unidentified South Korean experts. She also dismissed doubts over North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile technology and threatened to conduct a full-range ICBM test.

This week, North Korea is under a major ruling party meeting in Pyongyang to review past policies and policy goals for 2023. It’s highly unusual for North Korea to test-launch a missile when it holds a key meeting.

In an indication that the plenary meeting of the Workers’ Party was being wrapped up, the North’s state media reported Saturday that its powerful Politburo decided to complete the draft resolution of the plenary meeting.

Some observers said North Korea will likely publish details of the meeting on Sunday, which would carry Kim Jong Un’s vows to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce sophisticated weapons in the name of dealing with what he calls U.S. hostility.

___

Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The logo for OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, appears on a mobile phone, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 31...
Associated Press

Cheaters beware: ChatGPT maker releases AI detection tool

ChatGPT is trying to curb its reputation as a freewheeling cheating machine with a new tool that can help detect if artificial intelligence wrote it
13 hours ago
This undated photo provided by the Grants Pass Police Department shows Benjamin Obadiah Foster. Fos...
Rio Yamat and Andrew Selsky, Associated Press

Oregon kidnap suspect previously released the day he arrived at prison

A man at the center of an intense police search in Oregon after a violent kidnapping last week was released from custody in October 2021 by Nevada prison officials on the same day he was transferred to the state's custody to serve a kidnapping sentence, authorities said Monday.
13 hours ago
FILE - Military personnel watch as Air Force One, with President Donald Trump aboard, prepares to d...
Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE (AP) — Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering its final 747 jumbo jet. Since its first flight in 1969, the giant yet graceful 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, a transport for NASA’s space shuttles, and the Air Force One […]
13 hours ago
seattle police...
Associated Press

Name of Seattle officer in crash that killed woman released

Police have released the name of a Seattle police officer who was responding to a medical call when his patrol SUV hit and killed a 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula last week in a city crosswalk.
13 hours ago
Police investigators stand in a street near a house where three people were killed and four others ...
Associated Press

Chief: Fatal shooting at LA home was ‘targeted assault’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A weekend shooting in which three women were killed at a short-term rental home in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood was a targeted attack, the city’s police chief said Tuesday as investigators continued to search for suspects. Four other people were wounded, two critically, when gunfire erupted around 2:30 a.m. Saturday […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Unexpected Pennsylvania House speaker hopes to retain job

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The rank-and-file Democrat who was unexpectedly elected speaker of the Pennsylvania House as a compromise candidate earlier this month is saying he hopes to keep the job even after three vacant Democratic-leaning seats are filled in special elections next week. In a lengthy interview late Monday in his state Capitol suite, […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
N. Korea fires 3 missiles amid tensions over drone flights