North Korea, after weeks of testing missiles, has broken its silence on the launches amidst growing criticism and escalating tensions in the region. North Korea defended itself against the criticism, claiming that the tests were carried out in self-defense in response to US military threats.
North Korea added that the safety of surrounding nations and areas has not been compromised by these tests.
The North Korean-owned news agency KCNA said, “Missile tests are a routine, scheduled self-defense measure to preserve our country’s security and regional peace from direct U.S. military threats.”
As the North Korean regime continues to launch ballistic missiles with ever-longer ranges, tensions on the Korean peninsula are rising, causing concern among South Korea, Japan, the United States, and other regional powers as well.
North Korea has carried out six missile launches in 12 days this week alone, along with the more advanced long-range weapons, one of which flew over Japan, leading to the issuing of alerts in some areas of Japan.
This year, North Korea has expanded its arms arsenal with hypersonic missiles and nuclear weapons. This has led the United States, along with South Korea and Japan, to step up their military exercises and partnership.
The East Asian region has experienced increased geopolitical tensions as a result of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and North Korea’s missile tests.
In an effort to more closely align their national security agendas, the US and Japan last month decided to work together on collaborative research and development for defense options against hypersonic weapon systems. The discussions between Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and U.S. Defense Minister Lloyd Austin took place in the Pentagon.
North Korea’s defense against criticism
The North Korean government’s official news agency, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), went on to say that the missile tests “did not pose any threat or harm to the safety of air transport as well as the safety of surrounding nations and areas,” as the tests were done by taking into full consideration civil aviation safety in advance.
This statement was issued in response to the International Civil Aviation Organization Council’s warning that North Korea’s missile launches pose a major safety concern to global civil aviation.
In a different report, the news agency said that North Korea’s military ministry was “looking seriously at the evolution of the current scenario, which is very frightening,” regarding exercises with the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan between the United States and South Korea.
On the 7th of this month, South Korea and the United States launched a new set of drills with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the waters near the Korean peninsula after North Korea flew warplanes near the shared border between the two Koreas.
The tense situation in the Korean Peninsula seems to be continuing, with each side countering the other’s military exercises with its own.
At the UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, India joined other countries, including the US, Japan, South Korea, the UK, France, and others, in denouncing the launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea on Wednesday. Eleven countries also released a joint statement at the meeting.
India declared that it has a “shared interest” in the region and will “continue to advocate dialogue and diplomacy as approaches to resolving problems in the Korean Peninsula.”
The year’s 24th missile test by North Korea was conducted on Tuesday, and for the first time in five years, a ballistic missile flew over Japan. So far, 43 missiles have been launched by North Korea this year, breaking its previous records.
The joint statement made a plea to the other UN members to denounce such “reckless behavior” as well and to pressure North Korea to give up “its illegal weapons programs and engage in diplomatic efforts toward denuclearization.”
The last time North Korea increased the number of missile launches was in 2017, which stopped after the UN Security Council unanimously acted to make North Korea responsible for its illegal conduct.
In reaction to North Korea’s most recent missile launches, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on it on Friday.
The ongoing tensions on the Korean Peninsula will not be resolved by countries displaying their military might to each other; rather, all the stakeholders involved need to come together at the negotiation table to reach a mutually agreed upon decision.