North Korea likely fired artillery shells amid US-South Korea exercises

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea appears to have conducted artillery firing drills on Sunday, South Korea said, days after the United States sent sophisticated warplanes to South Korea for joint training.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement they spotted multiple trajectories Sunday afternoon that are believed to be North Korean artillery. It said the South Korean military had maintained a firm stand-by in close coordination with the United States.

South Korea’s presidential office said the suspected launches occurred off the west coast of the north. It said that the President’s Director of National Security, Kim Sung-han, has reviewed South Korea’s military readiness and that his office is closely monitoring possible additional North Korean launches.

This year, North Korea has conducted an unusually large number of weapons tests, including nuclear-capable missiles, putting both the US mainland and its allies, including South Korea and Japan, within striking distance. Some experts say North Korea is trying to perfect its weapons technology and strengthen its bargaining chip in future negotiations with the United States for sanctions relief or security guarantees.

Last week, six US F-35 aircraft arrived in South Korea from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, for their first temporary deployment to South Korea in about 4 1/2 years for joint training with South Korean fighter jets.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the deployment of the jets aims to demonstrate the allies’ combined defensive posture and strong deterrence against potential external aggression, while enhancing the interoperability of the two air forces. A US military statement said the US plane plans to operate over South Korea and surrounding waters during the planned 10-day training mission.

North Korea usually views joint exercises between the US and South Korea as an invasion rehearsal and responds with its own weapons tests. US and South Korean defense officials have repeatedly stated that they have no intention of attacking North Korea.

North Korea has said it was forced to develop nuclear weapons to deal with US military threats. Despite its vigorous missile tests earlier this year, North Korea has not conducted its expected first nuclear bomb test in five years, and Seoul officials said it was likely due to an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 and opposition from China, its last major ally and benefactor.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/n-korea-likely-fired-artillery-rounds-amid-us-s-korea-drills/2022/07/10/5d9d9db4-005a-11ed-8beb-2b4e481b1500_story.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=wp_world North Korea likely fired artillery shells amid US-South Korea exercises

Dustin Huang

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