December 4, 2022

Seoul, South Korea CNN —

South Korea’s military on Wednesday said North Korea had fired the highest number of short-range missiles in a day as Seoul hit back at Pyongyang’s recent spate of weapons tests and tensions in the region continued to escalate.

North Korea has launched as many as 23 missiles of various types east and west of the Korean peninsula, including one surface-to-air missile into the waters off the east and west coasts of the Korean peninsula, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry.

One of the missiles launched by Pyongyang was a short-range ballistic missile that landed near South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the partition of Korea, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

According to JCS, the missile landed in international waters 167 kilometers (104 miles) northwest of South Korea’s Ulleung Island, about 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) – the de facto inter-Korean maritime border that North Korea does not recognize.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said North Korea made another launch later Wednesday, including at least one more eastbound ballistic missile, which fell into the sea outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The ballistic missile flew a short distance at a maximum altitude of less than 50 km, Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters Wednesday night local time.

“North Korea has rapidly escalated its provocations, launching more than a dozen rockets today alone and reportedly firing more than 100 artillery shells into the Sea of ​​Japan since announcing a highly provocative statement earlier in the day,” Ino said.

So far, no damage to aircraft or ships has been confirmed.

When asked if North Korea had fired that many missiles in a day in the past, Ino told reporters that in 2006 and 2009, the North fired multiple missiles during the day from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. local time and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 a.m PM local time without giving an exact number of missiles.

A South Korean defense official said earlier the missiles landed in the west of the peninsula in the Yellow Sea, known in Korea as the West Sea, and in the east in the Sea of ​​Japan, also known as the East Sea.

An airstrike warning on the island of Ulleung, about 120 kilometers east of the peninsula, was lifted around 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the North Korean test was an “effective territorial encroachment”.

At an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), according to the South Korean Presidential Office, Yoon “ordered that a strong reaction must take place quickly so that North Korea’s provocation pays a clear price”.

In an immediate response, South Korea fired three air-to-surface missiles from F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets on Wednesday morning, according to JCS.

JCS said the South Korean Air Force landed international waters north of the NLL at the same distance as the North Korean missile south of the line.

“Our military’s precise strike demonstrated our will to respond decisively to any North Korean provocation, including short-range ballistic missiles, and our ability and willingness to precisely target the enemy,” JCS said.

North Korea is “fully responsible” for the situation as they continue to provoke despite warnings, JCS added.

On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that North Korea is firing missiles at an “unprecedented high frequency.”

Kishida also called for a National Security Council meeting to be held as soon as possible due to rising tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“North Korea’s unprecedented launch of multiple ballistic missiles recklessly threatens the security of the Republic of Korea,” said Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong. tweeted On Wednesday.

“Pyongyang must stop this action,” she added.

North Korea has fired the most short-range missiles in a day, according to South Korea

Moscow urged North and South Korea to avoid moves that “could provoke a further rise in tensions” as it grapples with fractured global ties amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.

“The situation on the peninsula is already very tense and we urge everyone to remain calm and avoid steps that could provoke a further increase,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s unprecedented rocket launch overnight.

Thomas-Greenfield told CNN this morning with Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow that the launch violated “several Security Council resolutions” and said the UN would “put pressure” on China and Russia to improve such sanctions and to reinforce.

She declined to say whether US President Joe Biden would raise it with China’s President Xi at the G20, but added it was “on the President’s mind”.

People watch a TV screen showing a newscast showing file footage of a North Korean missile test at a train station in Seoul on November 2, 2022.

North Korea’s launch is its 29th this year, according to a CNN tally, and comes after a North Korean official warned in a statement Wednesday that the United States and South Korea would pay the “most horrific price in history” for any military action Pyongyang.

The aggressive acceleration of weapons testing and rhetoric has raised alarms in the region, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has stepped up missile testing this year.

On Monday, the United States and South Korea began previously planned large-scale military exercises called “Vigilant Storm.”

According to the US Department of Defense, 240 aircraft and “thousands of service personnel” from both countries are involved in the maneuvers.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is scheduled to meet his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup at the Pentagon on Thursday.

Experts have previously told CNN that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be sending a message by deliberately flaunting the nation’s arsenal at a time of heightened global conflicts.

Last month, North Korean state media broke a six-month silence on this year’s spate of missile tests, claiming they were meant to demonstrate Pyongyang’s willingness to launch tactical nuclear warheads at potential targets in the south.

The latest tests also come after the head of the United Nations nuclear regulator warned last week that Pyongyang could be preparing for a nuclear test — the first since 2017 — with satellite imagery showing activity at its underground nuclear test site.

“We are following this very, very closely. We hope it doesn’t happen, but unfortunately the signs are pointing in the opposite direction,” the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said last Thursday.

Correction: This story has been updated to clarify that this is not the first time North and South Korea have launched missiles off their respective coasts and to reflect that North Korea has launched a number of missiles of various types and distances in kilometers from the NLL .