North Korea explains missile tests
North Korea’s recent string of missile tests were part of an exercise simulating attacks on South Korean and US targets using a variety of munitions, including nuclear-capable weapons, the country’s military has explained, according to state media.
Pyongyang went on to point out that the missile launches were a response to Seoul and Washington’s ‘Vigilant Storm’ joint air drills, which took place between October 31 and November 5. North Korea’s military described these “largest-ever-scale” exercises as an “open provocative act of intentionally aggravating tension in the region” and “a dangerous war drill” specifically targeted against North Korea.
The Korean People’s Army General Staff said that it could not overlook the “aggressive nature” of the exercise and carried out its own show of force.
Between November 2 and November 5, North Korea claims to have deployed some 500 fighter jets, fired hundreds of rounds of artillery shells into the sea and launched several dozen rockets, including short-range tactical ballistic missiles loaded with warheads for “dispersion and underground infiltration,” some of which reportedly landed on an uninhabited island.
Pyongyang says these drills were meant to simulate an attack on an enemy air base, on hostile aircraft, as well as on a major South Korean city, in order to “smash the continued frenzy of war provocations of the enemy.”
This year’s ‘Vigilant Storm’ drills conducted by the US and South Korea involved some 240 military aircraft and became the largest drills of their kind to date, according to the US Air Force. The joint exercise was initially scheduled to last until November 4, but was extended for an additional day, sparking fierce protest from Pyongyang, which called the decision “an irrevocable and awful mistake.”