Tensions Flare: North Korea Launches Missile, Points Finger at US

South Korea reported that North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile at sea on Sunday. Pyongyang blamed the U.S. for escalating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The missile, which was launched off the east coast of North Korea near Pyongyang’s capital, flew for 354 miles (570 km) before it landed in the sea.

Reuters reported that the Japanese Coast Guard claimed that the missile fell less than 20 min after launch.

The South condemned the launch, calling it a “clear breach” of the U.N. Security Council Resolutions which have prohibited the North from using any ballistic technology.

The North Korean Defense Ministry released a statement shortly following the launch, but it did not mention the missile.

The ministry instead criticized the U.S., for what it called “a reckless military threat” which was destabilizing to the region. It was referring to U.S. military assets including strategic bombers, nuclear submarines, and other military assets that were deployed to South Korea.

The DPRK’s armed forces will neutralize any attempt by the U.S. or its vassal countries to start a nuclear conflict and ensure peace and safety on the Korean Peninsula, a spokesman for the ministry said in a Reuters statement.

Pyongyang has also denounced Washington and Seoul for including nuclear operations scenarios in their joint exercises. Pyongyang described this as a direct threat to use nuclear weapons on the North and vowed to prepare “offensive measures” that are not specified.

Reuters reported that a joint U.S.-South Korean statement warned Pyongyang about a nuclear attack on the country or its allies. The U.S. said any such attack was “unacceptable” and would lead to the fall of (Kim Jong Un’s) regime.

The statement stated that “the U.S. reiterated any nuclear attack against the ROK by the DPRK will be met swiftly, decisively, and with overwhelming force.”

North Korea has tested more than 100 missiles in the past year. Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, used the distraction created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at full scale to accelerate the expansion of the military nuclear program that he views as his best guarantee of survival.