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N. Korea fires ballistic missile as US awaits midterm election results

People watch a TV report at Seoul Station on Nov. 9, 2022, about North Korea`s launch of a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea earlier in the day. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launch from the Sukchon area in South Pyongan Province at around 3:31 p.m. (Yonhap)
People watch a TV report at Seoul Station on Nov. 9, 2022, about North Korea`s launch of a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea earlier in the day. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launch from the Sukchon area in South Pyongan Province at around 3:31 p.m. (Yonhap)
North Korea on Wednesday fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast, as the United States counts the ballots for the midterm elections it held Tuesday.

The South Korean military detected one short-range ballistic missile being fired from the area of Sukchon County in South Pyongan Province toward the East Sea at 3:31 p.m. local time on Wednesday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The short-range ballistic missile traveled about 290 kilometers at a speed of Mach 6 and an altitude of around 30 km, the JCS said in a statement, adding that South Korean and US intelligence authorities are analyzing the specifications.

“Our military is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States to prepare for additional provocation by North Korea while tracking and monitoring related moves,” the JCS said in a statement.

The missile flew northeastward and targeted an uninhabited island in the East Sea, according to a South Korean military source who wished to remain anonymous. 

Alsom, an uninhabited small island in the East Sea, had typically been used as a target for missile launches by North Korea. But the military source said the latest short-range ballistic missile was fired at a different island, without sharing further details. 

The South Korean military also detected several North Korean warplanes flying over the targeted uninhabited island before and after the short-range ballistic missile was launched. The military has been analyzing whether there is a connection between the missile launch and the presence of North Korean military aircraft. 

North Korea launched a ballistic missile after Americans finished casting ballots for the 2022 midterm elections. All polls were closed across the US by 3 p.m. Korean time on Wednesday.

The results of the midterms will determine the balance of power in the US Congress, and the shift in the political landscape will inevitably affect the Biden administration’s North Korea policy.

The missile launch also came after the South Korean military on Monday began conducting the four-day Taegeuk military exercise to bolster its mission capability in real-world scenarios in preparation for various threats, including threats posed by North Korean missile and nuclear programs.

But the ongoing computer-simulated command post exercise does not incorporate any field training exercises.

North Korea has taken a series of military actions, including launching ballistic missiles and firing artillery shells near the inter-Korean border, while justifying its actions as countermeasures against defense-oriented military exercises staged by South Korea and the US.

North Korea launched 35 missiles, including one suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, from Nov. 2 to Nov. 5, when South Korea and the US conducted the large-scale Vigilant Storm air combat exercise, according to South Korea’s JCS.

In addition, North Korea fired around 180 artillery shells toward the inter-Korean maritime buffer zones during the period, violating the Sept. 19 inter-Korean military agreement. The South Korean military detected 180 flight trails by North Korean warplanes flying near a South Korea-designated tactical action line on Friday.

The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army on Monday said in a statement that North Korea’s spate of military actions last week constituted a tit-for-tat response to the Vigilant Storm air combat exercise. The North Korean military also publicly threatened to continue to counter military exercises by South Korea and the US with “overwhelming, practical” military actions.



By Ji Da-gyum (dagyumji@heraldcorp.com)
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