South Korea and the US today responded to the latest North Korean launch by firing four short-range missiles and announcing the return of a US aircraft carrier to waters off South Korea’s east coast.
It has been a joint reaction within the framework of the agreements recently reached by the allies and suggests an increase in war trials by both parties and, consequently, an increase in tension to levels close to the worrying levels reached in 2017.
On Tuesday Pyongyang fired what appears to be a Hwasong-12 that flew over Japan for the first time in five years and has been the longest North Korean projectile ever, having flown around 4,500 kilometers reaching a maximum height of almost 1,000 kilometres.
Two missiles each and one failed
Earlier this Wednesday, the South Korean and United States armies fired four short-range surface-to-surface missiles from the ATACMS system into the Sea of Japan (called the East Sea in the two Koreas), according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (JCS) South Korean.
Those four projectiles were in fact accompanied by a fifth, a South Korean Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missile, whose launch from the Gangneung air base, about 170 kilometers east of Seoul, was unsuccessful.
Despite crashing inside the military facility and causing no casualties or injuries, the erroneous launch sparked criticism from nearby residents for the sight of the explosion and the total lack of information from the army, which did not confirm the event for up to 12 hours. after.
These missile launches were preceded late yesterday by a South Korean air force maneuver, which included a squadron of F-15 fighters, one of which dropped two precision bombs over the Yellow Sea.
The Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier
The response of the allies is part of the so-called “extended deterrence”, finalized in May and by which Washington commits to deploy strategic Pentagon assets on the Korean peninsula in a “coordinated manner and when necessary”, depending on the actions from Pyongyang.
In this sense, nothing fits better within the concept of “extended deterrence” than the decision, announced today, to return the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to the waters of the Sea of Japan, just a week after the ship carried out maneuvers in the area with the South Korean and Japanese navy.
The Ronald Reagan had not moved through waters near the Korean peninsula since that unfortunate 2017, when the repeated weapons tests in Pyongyang and the harsh dialectical clashes between the then US president, Donald Trump, and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, they feared a fatal miscalculation.
An atomic test
Many experts believe that the fact that the North Korean projectile flew over Japan for the first time in five years may point to an intensification, in number and scope, of North Korean weapons tests, just as it happened in precisely 2017, when the regime carried out which at the moment is its last nuclear test to date.
North Korea, which has rejected offers to resume dialogue and remains completely isolated from the outside world due to the pandemic, approved a major weapons modernization plan in 2021.
The satellites have revealed that it has been prepared for months to carry out a new detonation in Punggye-ri (northeast), and analysts believe that Tuesday’s launch may anticipate a new atomic test that, they point out, would almost in all probability be carried out after the conclusion of the congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) so as not to stir up Beijing.