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North Korea Fires ICBM Ahead of South Korea-Japan Summit

This week, North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) mere hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan were due to meet for a landmark summit.[0] South Korea and Japan's government offices have both confirmed that the missile flew approximately 620 miles (1,000km) before landing in Japanese waters.[1] Images released by North Korea showed Kim Jong-un watching the operations on Thursday alongside his daughter, the 10-year-old Kim Ju-ae, who is reportedly being readied to one day take over from her father.[1]

The launch of the ICBM came during a drill to demonstrate a “tough response posture” to ongoing US-South Korea exercises, state media reported. According to assessments by South Korea and Japan’s militaries, the US mainland is within the missile’s range.[2] North Korea has long portrayed regular US-South Korean military drills as rehearsals for a potential invasion, although the allies describe those exercises as defensive.[3]

The launch overshadowed the summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, where the leaders agreed to resume defense dialogue and further strengthen their three-way security cooperation with the US to counter North Korea and other regional challenges.[4]

At the summit, Yoon said North Korea will have to pay the price for its reckless provocations.[5] He proposed that security cooperation between South Korea, Japan, and the United States should be reinforced.[4]

Kim accused the United States and South Korea of increasing tensions with the military drills, and said the launch of the strategic weapon was meant to “strike fear into the enemies” over “open hostility” shown to the North.[6]

North Korea is believed to have the range to potentially deliver a nuclear warhead to targets anywhere in the United States.[7] On Monday, the Republic of Korea and the United States began the Freedom Shield exercises, a yearly major joint military training, that will conclude on March 23.[8]

The launch of the North’s ballistic missiles are banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions and the launch drew condemnation from governments in Seoul, Washington and Tokyo.[9] Kim emphasized that the North will “react to nuclear weapons with nukes and frontal confrontation in kind” and called for “strictly maintaining the rapid response posture of the strategic forces to cope with any armed conflict and war.[10]

0. “North Korean military test-fires long-range missile ahead of key South Korean-Japanese summit” Axios, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.axios.com/2023/03/16/north-korea-long-range-missile-south-korean-japanese-summit

1. “North Korea's growing nuclear hoard and Kim's chilling ‘first-use' doctrine to wage war” Express, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1747559/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-spt

2. “North Korea conducts ICBM test ahead of Japan-South Korea summit” Kyodo News Plus, 16 Mar. 2023, https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/03/bab81d4a78b3-breaking-news-n-korea-fires-suspected-ballistic-missile-japan-defense-ministry.html

3. “North Korea may engage in more provocative acts, says Japan's government | NHK WORLD-JAPAN News” NHK WORLD, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230314_12

4. “North Korea confirms launch of Hwasong-17 in test overseen by Kim Jong-un and his daughter” AOL, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.aol.com/news/north-korea-confirms-launch-hwasong-121419090.html

5. “North Korea's neighbors shore up their defenses” WORLD News Group, 17 Mar. 2023, https://wng.org/roundups/north-koreas-neighbors-shore-up-their-defenses-1679074632

6. “Kim Jong Un Says Missile Tests To ‘Strike Fear Into Enemies'” Benzinga, 17 Mar. 2023, https://www.benzinga.com/news/23/03/31392419/kim-jong-un-defends-missile-tests-as-response-to-u-s-south-korea-provocation-need-to-strike-fear-int

7. “South Korea's Yoon Arrives in Japan Hours After North Fires ICBM” Bloomberg, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-15/north-korea-fires-ballistic-missile-ahead-of-yoon-s-japan-trip

8. “DPRK warns against US-ROK war drills with missile launch” China Daily, 18 Mar. 2023, http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202303/18/WS64158eeda31057c47ebb53da.html

9. “North Korea says it launched ICBM to warn US, S.Korea over drills” The Jerusalem Post, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/article-734604

10. “(2nd LD) N. Korea test-fired Hwasong-17 ICBM in warning to enemies holding allied drills: state media” Yonhap News Agency, 17 Mar. 2023, https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20230317001052325

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