US, S. Korea fire missiles to sea, matching North’s launches

  • U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, right, and South Korea's landing platform helicopter ship Marado, second from left, sail during a joint military exercise Sunday at an undisclosed location. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea — The U.S. and South Korean militaries launched eight ballistic missiles into the sea Monday in a show of force matching a North Korean missile display a day earlier that extended a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations.

The allies’ live-fire exercise involved eight Army Tactical Missile System missiles – one American and seven South Korean – that were fired into South Korea’s eastern waters across 10 minutes following notifications for air and maritime safety, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Forces Korea.

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The tit-for-tat missile launches were aimed at demonstrating the ability to respond swiftly and accurately to North Korean attacks, the South Korean military said.

The South’s military on Sunday detected North Korea firing eight short-range missiles over 35 minutes from at least four different locations, including from western and eastern coastal areas and two inland areas north of and near the capital, Pyongyang, in what appeared to be a single-day record for the country’s ballistic launches.

It was North Korea’s 18th round of missile tests in 2022 alone — a streak that included the country’s first launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in nearly five years.

South Korean and U.S. officials also say North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017 as leader Kim Jong Un pushes a brinkmanship aimed at cementing the North’s status as a nuclear power and negotiating economic and security concessions from a position of strength.

U.S. and South Korean forces conducted a similar live-fire exercise following North Korea’s previous ballistic launches on May 25, which South Korea’s military said involved an ICBM flown on medium-range trajectory and two short-range weapons.

Those tests came as Biden wrapped up his trip to South Korea and Japan, where he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend both allies.

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