North Korea fires missile, vows ‘fiercer’ responses to U.S., allies

SEOUL, Nov 17 (Reuters) – North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Thursday as it warned of “harder military responses” to U.S. efforts to boost its security presence in the region with its allies, saying Washington was taking “a gamble, which he will regret.”

The South Korean military said the ballistic missile was fired from the city of Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast at 10:48 a.m. (0248 GMT). It was the latest in a record number of such tests this year, and the North also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea recently, while South Korea and the United States staged drills, some involving Japan.

The launch came less than two hours after North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui sharply criticized the recent trilateral summit between the United States, South Korea and Japan, during which the leaders criticized Pyongyang’s weapons tests and pledged to -great security cooperation.

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During the talks, US President Joe Biden reiterated his commitment to strengthen extended deterrence and defend the two Asian allies with a “full range of capabilities”, including nuclear weapons.

Chow said the three countries’ “military exercises of aggression” had failed to contain the North, but rather would bring a “more serious, realistic and unavoidable threat” to itself.

“The more the US pursues the ‘enhanced extended deterrence proposal’ to its allies and the more it steps up provocative and bluffing military actions … the fiercer the DPRK’s military countermeasures will be,” Choe said in a statement released by an official representative KCNA News Agency.

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She named her country after the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The US will know full well that they are taking a gamble that they will certainly regret,” Chow added.

A spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry said the trilateral summit and their cooperation on extended deterrence are aimed at countering the North’s nuclear and missile threats.

The United States has said since May that North Korea is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017, but its actual timing remains unclear.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo said in a joint statement after the summit that Pyongyang’s nuclear tests would provoke a “strong and decisive response”.

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Chow said the North’s military activities were “legitimate and just countermeasures” to the US-led exercises.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, who handles inter-Korean affairs, said the North could delay its nuclear test for a while, citing China’s domestic political timetable.

“North Korea also achieved some political effects by codifying its nuclear legislation in August, so there may be no immediate need for a nuclear test,” Kwon said in an interview with Yonhap news agency published on Thursday.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Lincoln Feist and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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