N. Korea fires short-range ballistic missile prior to U.S.-S. Korea drills

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : March 10, 2023, 16:04 Updated : December 13, 2023, 03:37

[Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile ahead of the joint military drills by the United States and South Korea, set to begin on March 13 for 11 days.

The missile was fired at 6:20 p.m. (0920 GMT) on March 9, near Nampo, located some 50 kilometers (31 miles) southwest of Pyongyang. The South Korean military is investigating the possibility that multiple short-range ballistic missiles were fired simultaneously. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said that it is maintaining a readiness posture by cooperating with the U.S.
The missile launch occurred three days after joint air drills conducted by South Korea and the U.S. on March 6. Along with South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, the U.S. Air Force's nuclear-capable B-52H strategic bombers were deployed over the Yellow Sea near China. The B-52H is a long-range strike bomber that can fly more than 6,400 kilometers (3,976 miles) with up to 31 tons of bombs and return after bombing targets.
Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, warned on March 7 that military responses against the North's strategic weapon tests conducted outside the U.S. jurisdiction will be considered a declaration of war on her country. She is currently serving as the vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.
The U.S. and South Korea are slated to begin a joint exercise titled "Freedom Shield" on March 13. The United States Forces Korea (USFK) said in a press release that "the exercise will include but not be limited to lessons learned from current and ongoing conflicts to increase the units' combat readiness and combined defense posture, as well as strengthen the security and stability on the Korean peninsula and across Northeast Asia." 
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