SEOUL (WASHINGTON POST) – The US Army and South Korean military responded to North Korea’s latest launch with their own exercise of missiles, launching them on Wednesday (July 5) into South Korean territorial waters along the country’s eastern coastline, US Pacific Command said in a statement.
The launches were directly in response to “North Korea’s destabilising and unlawful actions”, Pacific Command said.
The US used its Army Tactical Missile System and South Korea used its Hyunmoo Missile II, which can be deployed rapidly and provide “deep strike precision capability”, Pacific Command said.
The South Korean-US military alliance “remains committed to peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and throughout the Asia-Pacific”, Pacific Command said.
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“The US commitment to the defence of the (Republic of Korea) in the face of threats is ironclad.”
On Tuesday (July 4), North Korea launched a missile that flew higher and remained in the air longer than previous attempts, enough to reach all of Alaska, experts said, in a milestone for North Korea’s weapons programme.
The response from the US and South Korean military alliance, which came on Tuesday evening Washington time, amounted to a show of force, though it is unclear how the North Korean government would perceive it.
The Army describes the missiles it used as long-range, all-weather guided missiles. They are designed to be precise in nature and can be used beyond the range of artillery and rockets.
The US missile system can be used to take out ground combat units, surface-to-surface missile units, air-defence units, helicopter rearming and refuelling systems and communications sites, according to an Army fact sheet.
Some of the missiles in the system are designed to deliver a single, 500-pound warhead on a target through the use of satellite guidance, while others distribute hundreds of smaller bomblets over a larger distance, according to the Army.
Ms Dana White, a Pentagon spokesman, confirmed in a statement on Tuesday night that the missile North Korea used was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and described it as a “escalatory launch”.
“The launch continues to demonstrate that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies,” Ms White said. “Together with the Republic of Korea, we conducted a combined exercise to show our precision fire capability.”
Ms White said that the US remains prepared to defend itself and allies and to use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the growing threat from North Korea”.
The US seeks only the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korea Peninsula, and its commitment to its allies is ironclad, she added.