North Korea fires artillery at sea as South Korea, US pledge cooperation

SEOUL, Nov 4 (Reuters) – North Korea fired around 80 artillery shells into a maritime border area overnight, South Korea said on Friday, as defense ministers from Seoul and Washington meet pledged to show determination in the face of a deluge of missile tests by South Korea. North.

North Korea fired several missiles at sea on Thursday, including a possible misfired intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), prompting the United States and South Korea to extend aerial drills that angered Pyongyang.

Shortly before midnight on Thursday, South Korea’s military said it detected more than 80 artillery shells fired into the sea by North Korea, which it says violates a 2018 inter-Korean agreement.

The South has sent a warning communication to the North about the shootings, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Meeting in Washington, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup pledged to seek further steps to demonstrate the alliance’s “resolve and capability” following repeated provocations North Korea, according to a joint statement from the two countries.

Tensions have risen as North Korea has carried out a record number of missile launches this year, including at least 23 on Wednesday alone and the launch of the ICBM on Thursday. South Korea and the United States also say North Korea has completed technical readiness to test a nuclear device at any time, in what would be its first nuclear test since 2017.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, has condemned Allied military drills.

On Thursday, Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said Washington and Seoul had taken a very dangerous decision by extending the drills and were “pushing” the situation out of control.

“The United States and South Korea will find they made a terrible mistake that cannot be reversed,” Pak said.

Diplomats said Washington asked the UN Security Council on Friday to meet publicly on North Korea, a request backed by fellow council members Britain, France, Albania, Ireland and Norway.

North Korea has long been banned from nuclear testing and ballistic missile launches by the Security Council, which has tightened sanctions on Pyongyang over the years in an attempt to cut off funding for such programs.

However, in recent years the 15-member council has been divided over how to deal with North Korea and in May China and Russia vetoed a US-led push to impose more restrictions. UN sanctions in response to North Korean missile launches. (Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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