(ATTN: UPDATES with US Army response to paras 5 & 6)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) — North Korea fired three ballistic missiles towards the East Sea on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, just a day after U.S. President Joe Biden completed his trip to Asia, highlighting the United States’ security commitment in Seoul and Tokyo.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they detected the launches from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at around 6 a.m., 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m., respectively, which marked the 17th show of force of the North this year.
“While strengthening surveillance and vigilance activities, our military, in close cooperation with the United States, maintains a posture of total readiness,” the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
The launches followed speculation that the North could conduct an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or nuclear test to bolster its military presence and bolster national unity amid COVID-19 outbreaks and economic hardship.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said Wednesday’s missile launches highlighted “the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program”. DPRK stands for the official name of the North, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We are aware of the DPRK’s multiple ballistic missile launches today and are evaluating and consulting closely with our allies and partners,” he said in a press release. “The United States’ commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains rock solid.”
On Tuesday, Biden wrapped up his first trip to Asia since taking office early last year.
At a summit with President Yoon Suk-yeol on Saturday, Biden reaffirmed America’s commitment to “extensive deterrence” toward South Korea using “the full range of American defense capabilities, including nuclear defense capabilities.” , conventional and anti-missile”.
To deal with rising North Korean threats, the two leaders agreed to expand combined allied exercises and reactivate a key dialogue on deterrence. Biden also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to deploying its strategic military assets “in a timely and coordinated manner as necessary.”
Earlier this month, the North launched what was thought to be an ICBM, then a ballistic missile apparently launched by a submarine – in a move seen as an effort to diversify its nuclear delivery systems.