On Tuesday, state media in Pyongyang reported that North Korea was practicing to strike United States military bases in Japan with its latest barrage of missiles. The state fired multiple rockets at once in an effort to outsmart a new American antimissile battery deployed to South Korea by
North Korea launched four missiles:
The Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong Un presided over Monday’s launch of the four missiles. The KCNA statement said: “If the United States or South Korea fires even a single flame inside North Korean territory, we will demolish the origin of the invasion and provocation with a nuclear tipped missile.”
According to the agency, the four ballistic missiles were launched by the elite Hwasong ballistic missile division which is “tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan.”
As a result of the United States and Japan’s postwar security alliance, the US has numerous military bases and about 54,000 military personnel stationed there.
Three of the four missiles landed in the sea inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone off the Oga Peninsula in Akita prefecture which houses a Japanese self-defense forces base, while the fourth missile fell just outside it.
After studying photos released by North Korea state media, analysts from Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California have concluded that the missiles fired were extended-range Scuds capable of flying more than 600 miles.
Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute, Jeffrey Lewis, said that North Korea has tested these types of missiles before, however, Monday’s launches were to test how quickly the unit could set them up and deploy them, a classic training for a wartime situation.
Challenging the US actions in the region:
The launch was aimed at challenging the United States and South Korea’s advanced antimissile battery called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, which is designed to protect the region against North Korea’s rockets. The system is currently being installed with its first parts arriving on Monday at the Osan air base south of Seoul. However, THAAD would have difficulty intercepting four missiles launched at the same time
The launches also came during joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, which take place every year. North Korea views them as preparation for an invasion.
The North Korean missile program has been making clear progress, and it has declared the goal of developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States.
Joshua Pollack, editor of the Nonproliferation Review said that the launches are designed to send a message to both President Trump and the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
Last month, North Korea launched the first missile since Trump was elected while the president was hosting Abe for dinner at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida.
A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres stated that the actions of North Korea “violate Security Council resolutions and seriously undermine regional peace and stability.”