On Thursday, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea off its west coast from the port city of Nampo. The launch was detected at 6:20 a.m. by the South Korean general staff. This new North Korean firing comes as US and South Korean forces are due to launch their largest joint military exercises in five years on March 13, dubbed “Ulchi Freedom Shield”.
“Our military continues to stand ready for anything and is cooperating closely with the United States as we step up our surveillance and vigilance,” the South Korean military said. Washington and Seoul say they are defense exercises, but Pyongyang sees them as dress rehearsals for an invasion of its territory or an overthrow of its regime.
Shooting in response to “a declaration of war”
At the end of February, North Korea announced that it had fired cruise missiles in response to the intensification of American-South Korean military exercises, which it considers to be “a declaration of war”.
Relations between Pyongyang and Seoul are at a multi-year low, with talks stalled. In 2022, Pyongyang called its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” and conducted a series of ballistic and missile tests in violation of UN resolutions.