North Korea Launched ICBM After US-South Korea Exercises Announced

North Korea conducted an “ICBM [inter-contiential ballistic missile] launching drill” Saturday, hours after South Korea announced it would hold joint exercises with the United States.

Citing the South Korean military, the New York Times reported a North Korean ICBM, launched from the communist regime’s capital of Pyongyang, “flew about 560 miles to the east” on Saturday and landed off Japan’s coast.

The missile, reportedly a Hwasong-15, showed similar results to  a Hwasong-17 tested in November, as CBS News reported. If launched at the proper angle, the Hwasong-17 could potentially reach the United States, per the outlet: 

According to the South Korean and Japanese militaries, the missile was fired on a high angle, apparently to avoid reaching the neighbors’ territories, and traveled about 560 miles at a maximum altitude of 3,500 miles during an hourlong flight.

The details were similar to North Korea’s Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile test flight in November, which experts said demonstrated potential to reach the U.S. mainland if fired on a normal trajectory. Saturday’s test was of a Hwasong-15, according to KCNA.

“An ICBM launching drill was conducted on the afternoon of February 18,” a report from North Korean state media acknowledged. The report went on to say that the regime initiated the drill because “military threats of the U.S. and south Korea are getting serious to the extent that can not be overlooked.”

The report concerns military cooperation between the United States and South Korea. A Friday statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry indicated the regime is particularly aggrieved by “20 rounds of various joint military drills” it claims the U.S. and South Korea plan to conduct “within this year.”

“In case the U.S. and south Korea carry into practice their already-announced plan for military drills… they will face unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions,” the statement’s conclusion reads.

The Associated Press (AP) noted Friday that the Foreign Ministry “didn’t specify which U.S.-South Korean military trainings it was referring to” but that the regime “has typically slammed all major regular military drills between Washington and Seoul as a practice to launch an invasion.”

However, NK News noted the statement “came hours after the ROK defense ministry announced the dates and location for tabletop exercises.”

A press release from the South Korean Defense Ministry indicated that the tabletop exercises would “focus on the North Korean nuclear threat,” per NK News.

You can follow Michael Foster on Twitter at @realmfoster.

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