The United States and South Korea fired projectiles on Wednesday in response to North Korea’s latest missile test to deter any aggression from Pyongyang.
The South Korean military said the U.S. and South Korea fired four surface-to-surface missiles toward the Sea of Japan, or East Sea, in response to North Korea’s provocation.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, JCS, said each side fired two missiles which accurately hit mock targets and demonstrated the allies’ capability to deter further provocations.
North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile that flew eastward over Japan’s archipelago on Tuesday, marking the latest in a series of tests by Pyongyang as tensions rise in the region.
The U.S. and NATO strongly condemned the North Korean test.
It was the first time in nearly five years that a North Korean missile had flown over the Japanese archipelago.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch “outrageous.”
According to Yonhap, South Korean forces immediately responded on Tuesday by dropping two precision bombs from a F-15K fighter jet over the uninhabited island of Jikdo to the west of the Korean Peninsula.
The Yellow Sea is bordered by China and the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s military also fired a Hyunmoo-2C short-range ballistic missile toward the East Sea overnight, but the missile flew erratically right after take-off and ended up crashing on its own base in the east coast city of Gangneung.
The crash sparked a fire to the missile’s fuel, but its warhead did not explode and no one was hurt.
Still, residents in the area spent the night concerned due to the bright flashes and loud roar from the crash.
The move was criticized by lawmakers from South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party (DP), which decried what it called a “security vacuum” in the government of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Yonhap news agency reported.
Citing the joint chiefs, the South Korean agency also reported that the United States is once again sending an aircraft carrier to the waters east of the Korean peninsula in view of the tense situation.
The “unusual” return of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was intended to demonstrate the allies’ readiness for defense, it said.
Most recently, the ship arrived there for a naval manouevre with South Korea in September for its first visit in almost four years.
The South Korean military has been conducting joint flight drills with US F-16 fighter jets in the region, part of those naval exercises.
The last time North Korea flew a missile over Japan, in 2017, Pyongyang conducted a nuclear weapons test just days later.
According to North Korea expert Go Myong Hyun of the Seoul-based Asan Institute, the likelihood is also currently very high that North Korea could conduct a nuclear weapons test toward the end of the month.
United Nations resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles of any range, some of which are capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.