North Korea condemns US, South Korea military drills
North Korea on Thursday pushed back at the U.S. military’s recent activity in the region, calling it a “serious threat to the stability” of the Korean Peninsula.
It marked the first time Pyongyang has responded publicly since the country began its most recent round of missile launches on Sept. 24.
The isolated nation fired two more ballistic missiles into the ocean earlier Thursday, with North Korea’s foreign ministry suggesting the latest launch was in response to the U.S. repositioning the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and strike group off the Korean Peninsula.
The missile launch, the country’s sixth in 12 days, also occurred after the U.S. military and South Korean forces held joint missile drills.
Pyongyang argued that its recent launches — which violate United Nations Security Council resolutions — were “just counteraction measures” against the U.S. exercises with its allies.
The United States, South Korea and Japan have held military drills since August to show readiness should a conflict with the North arise, arguing that the exercises are defensive.
But North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s government views the wargames as hostile and has claimed its missile tests and nuclear program are necessary to protect itself.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have all condemned the North’s launches, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saying they “absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
On Thursday, North Korea’s military also flew a dozen warplanes — including fighter jets and four bombers — near the border with the South, prompting a response from Seoul, which sent up 30 of its own fighter jets, The Associated Press first reported.