South Korea and the United States jointly launched eight short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on June 6, in response to North Korea’s recent test of multiple short-range ballistic missiles, according to U.S. Forces Korea (USFK).
“This exercise utilized one U.S. Army missile and seven [South Korea] Army missiles. The missiles were fired from the northeast of South Korea into the East Sea following appropriate notifications for air and maritime safety,” the USFK said in a statement.
The move was “to demonstrate the ability of the combined [U.S.–South Korea] force to respond quickly to crisis events,” the USFK said, reaffirming Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to the defense of South Korea.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they launched the ground-to-ground ballistic missiles for about 10 minutes on June 6, Yonhap News Agency reported.
“Our military strongly condemns the North’s series of ballistic missile provocations and seriously urges it to immediately stop acts that raise military tensions on the peninsula and add to security concerns,” the JCS said.
North Korea launched eight short-range ballistic missiles from four locations on June 5. The JCS claimed that the missiles traveled 110 to 670 kilometers (68 to 416 miles) eastward at altitudes between 25 to 90 kilometers (15 to 55 miles).
North Korea’s official news agency didn’t issue a statement regarding the missile launches.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the “multiple ballistic missile launches” by Pyongyang and had consulted with its allies and partners.
“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, these missile launches highlight the destabilizing impact of [North Korea’s] illicit weapons program,” it said in a statement.
The latest missile test marked the North’s 18th round of missile launches this year; the previous one was on May 25, when three ballistic missiles were tested just hours after President Joe Biden ended his trip to Asia.
Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, held a trilateral meeting with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Seoul on June 4 to discuss North Korea’s nuclear threats. Kim said that Washington and its allies “are preparing for all contingencies.”
“We are prepared to make both short and longer-term adjustments to our military posture as appropriate and responding to any [North Korea] provocation and as necessary to strengthen both defense and deterrence to protect our allies in the region,” he said.
“We want to make clear to the DPRK that its unlawful and destabilizing activities have consequences and that the international community will not accept these actions as normal,” Kim added, using North Korea’s official acronym.
Kim reaffirmed that Washington remains open to dialogue with North Korea and is willing to discuss sanctions relief. But Pyongyang has “shown no interest” to resume denuclearization talks due to what it says are the U.S. and its allies’ “hostile” policies.
“When [North Korean leader Kim Jong Un] sees that we are coordinating very closely with partners and allies, I hope this persuades him that the only viable path is diplomacy with us.”