North Korea fires missile and flies warplanes near border as South imposes sanctions

SEOUL, Oct 14 (Reuters) – North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast on Friday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a string of launches by the nuclear-armed nation. nuclear weapons in a context of heightened tensions.

South Korea also dispatched fighter jets when a group of about 10 North Korean military aircraft flew near their heavily fortified border, and North Korea fired some 170 artillery rounds into “areas maritime buffers” off its east and west coasts, the Southern Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC) condemned the North for escalating tensions, calling its moves a violation of a 2018 bilateral military pact that prohibits “hostile acts” in the border area.

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Seoul imposed its first unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang in nearly five years, blacklisting 15 North Korean individuals and 16 institutions involved in missile development.

The JCS issued a warning to North Korea, urging it to stop provocations and escalating tensions.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told reporters that Pyongyang was “carrying out indiscriminate provocations”, promising to design “tight countermeasures”.

On Friday morning, North Korea’s military released a statement via state media KCNA that it took “strong military countermeasures” in the face of South Korean artillery fire on Thursday.

South Korea’s NSC said the shooting was “regular and legitimate” exercise.

The incidents came after KCNA said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles on Wednesday to confirm the reliability of nuclear-capable weapons deployed on military units.

The unprecedented frequency of North Korea’s missile launches has raised fears that it is preparing to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017. Some analysts do not expect any tests before neighboring China does not conclude a key congress of the ruling Communist Party, which will begin on the 16th.

US Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the latest missile launch and “it does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies.”

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South Korea’s JCS said the missile was launched at 1:49 a.m. Friday (1449 Thursday GMT) from the Sunan area near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and traveled about 700 km (435 miles) at an altitude of 50 km at a speed of Mach. 6.

The Japanese Coast Guard also reported the launch, which was at least the 41st ballistic missile test by the North this year.

The JCS said the plane incident took place over about two hours from 10:30 p.m. Thursday (1130 GMT), during which a dozen North Korean warplanes flew at 12 km (7 miles). ) north of the maritime border and 25 km (15 miles) to the north. of the military demarcation line.

He said the South Korean Air Force “conducted an emergency exit with its superior air force, including the F-35A” and a proportional response maneuver.

South Korea’s military will hold its annual Hoguk defense drills starting next week, including simulated field training to counter nuclear and missile threats from the North, he added.

In its latest sanctions, Seoul’s finance and foreign affairs ministries named four officials from the North Korean military think tank and 11 from a trading company.

The 16 entities on the blacklist include the rocket industry and naval transport agencies, as well as trading, construction and electronics companies.

They aided northern weapons programs and helped evade international sanctions by conducting research or providing funding and materials through foreign workers, smuggling and maritime operations, the ministries said.

The North Korean People’s Army (KPA) general staff accused the South of carrying out a “provocative action” with the artillery fire, which lasted about 10 hours.

“The KPA sends a stern warning to the South Korean military, inciting military tension in the frontline area through reckless action,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA.

North Korea has called its latest round of missile tests, which included an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan last week, a show of force against joint South Korean and US military exercises involving a carrier. planes.

Washington last week imposed new sanctions targeting a fuel supply network supporting Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

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Reporting by Josh Smith and Hyonhee in Seoul and David Brunnstrom in Washington; edited by Jonathan Oatis, Grant McCool, Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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