North Korea Calls U.S. 'Threat to Stability' as It Launches More Missiles

Japanese and South Korean officials have said that North Korea has fired two more missiles in the direction of Japan in what would be the second such launch this week as North Korea railed against the U.S. and its allies.

"A possible ballistic missile was launched from North Korea," the office of Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said Wednesday, Thursday local time, on Twitter.

An earlier tweet that has since been deleted suggested the missile had "likely" flown over Japan, as Monday's launch did, though this appears to have been corrected.

The premier's office also released a three-point set of instructions in the wake of the launch's detection that read: "1. Dedicate maximum effort to gather and analyze information, and provide the public speedy and adequate information," "2. Ensure the safety of aircraft, vessels, and other assets," and "3. Take all possible measures for precaution, including readiness for contingencies.

The Japanese Defense Ministry later said that it detected two ballistic missile launches from North Korea, both traveling east at around 220 miles at a max altitude of about 62 miles and around 500 miles at a max altitude of about 31 miles, respectively. It was said the latter projectile may have flown "on an irregular trajectory."

"North Korea's series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community," the ministry said. "We strongly condemn such ballistic missile launches, which violate the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions."

The launch was detected shortly after the Foreign Ministry of North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), issued a statement criticizing recent maneuvers carried out by the U.S. military and its allies, as well as their attempts to bring their criticism of Pyongyang's missile activities to the United Nations Security Council, which has barred North Korea from pursuing such activities.

"The DPRK Foreign Ministry strongly condemns the U.S. and its some satellites for unwarrantedly referring to the UNSC the just counteraction measures of the Korean People's Army against South Korea-U.S. joint drills escalating the military tensions on the Korean peninsula," the statement said.

"The DPRK is watching the U.S. posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity by redeploying the carrier task force in the waters off the Korean peninsula," it added.

North, Korea, October, 5, missile, launches, map
A map produced by the Japanese Defense Ministry shows the estimated flight path of two suspected North Korean ballistic missiles launched October 5, October 6 local time. Japanese Ministry of Defense

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its accompanying strike group were deployed to the Sea of Japan, referred to by both Koreas as the East Sea, late last month and were reportedly headed to the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions as North Korea continued to fire missiles toward the ocean. The U.S. has also pursued joint exercises with South Korea and Japan that North Korea viewed as provocative.

Monday's test, which was believed to have involved an intermediate-range ballistic missile, prompted a nationwide alert in Japan as well as instructions for those in the northern Aomori prefecture to seek shelter in a building or underground.

The South Korean Defense Ministry told Newsweek that the launch achieved a distance of about 2,800 miles, a maximum altitude of about 600 miles and a maximum speed of about Mach 17 before crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

The ministry also noted how the U.S. and South Korea responded with a rare joint missile exercise, which resulted in "an incident" in which "a missile fell down after launching during the missile firing drill," identifying the missile as a Hyunmoo-2 surface-to-air missile.

"There was no casualty and JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] is going to investigate it closely," the ministry said.

The U.S. and its allies roundly condemned North Korea's missile activities, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken most recently addressing the matter on Monday during a joint press conference with his Chilean counterpart.

"We've called on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations and engage in a sustained and substantive dialogue. This is something that we have proposed going back many months," Blinken said. "Unfortunately, the DPRK's response has been to launch more missiles. But we are taking appropriate defense and deterrent steps with allies and partners."

He also reiterated that "our commitment to the defense of our allies and partners, Korea and Japan, is ironclad."

"We believe that North Korea would be much better served by not only refraining from these actions but actually engaging in dialogue," he added. "I think what we're seeing is that if they continue down this road, it will only increase the condemnation, increase the isolation, increase the steps that are taken in response to their actions."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has also spoken to his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, joining them in decrying the North Korean launch.

But Monday's test was met with a muted reaction from China and Russia, which have recently defied the longstanding U.N. Security Council consensus on international sanctions against North Korea as a result of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program. Officials from both countries expressed concern, but also joined neighboring North Korea in accusing the U.S. of ratcheting up tensions.

UNC, command, tour, DMZ, border, Korea
A United Nations Command soldier, foreground, provides a media tour before North Korea's Panmon Hall and the military demarcation line separating North and South Korea, at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone in the truce village of Panmunjom on October 4, 2022. Japanese and South Korean officials said Wednesday that North Korea had fired a missile in the direction of Japan in what would be the second such launch this week. ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at Wednesday's U.N. Security Council meeting, Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative Geng Shuang noted how North Korea's launches, numbering 24 this year alone, "did not exist in isolation" as they were conducted both "before and after" the recent military exercises conducted by the U.S. and its allies.

"During this current critical period when the situation on the Korean Peninsula continues to be tense," Geng said, "all parties concerned should focus on the overall situation of peace and stability on the peninsula, exercise calm and restraint, be cautious in their words and deeds, and refrain from taking any actions that may aggravate the tension and lead to miscalculation, so as to prevent the situation from escalating in turn."

He also noted that the answer to resolving the ongoing crisis lay in the hands of Washington and Pyongyang, whose historic 2018 peace process alongside Seoul has since unraveled almost entirely. He felt it was the U.S. at fault for heeding North Korea's demands to show good faith ahead of any resumption of talks.

"Regrettably, the U.S. has not responded to the DPRK's positive measures in accordance with the 'action-for-action' principle," Geng said. "The denuclearization measures taken by the DPRK side have not been responded to, and its legitimate and legitimate concerns have not been resolved, resulting in a deadlock in the DPRK-U.S. dialogue and worsening mutual trust between the DPRK and the U.S."

"At the same time, the U.S. has recently strengthened its military alliance in the Asia-Pacific region, heightened the risk of military confrontation, and pursued double standards and political manipulation on the nuclear issue, which has poisoned the regional security environment," he added. "Against this background, the situation on the peninsula will inevitably become tense."

US, and, South, Korea, fire, missiles, sea
An Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) is fired during a joint training between the U.S. and South Korea, on October 5, 2022, at an undisclosed location. The South Korean and U.S. militaries fired a volley of missiles into the sea in response to North Korea firing a ballistic missile over Japan. Getty Images/Republic of Korea National Defense Ministry

Russian Deputy Representative Anna Evstigneeva also noted how the U.S. and its allies had "resumed large-scale military training" in the region and how, "for the first time in five years, the United States, the Republic of Korea, and Japan held a joint military exercise in the Sea of Japan, where a nuclear missile carrier took part, which was trained to target critical facilities in the DPRK."

She accused the leaders of the U.S., South Korea and Japan of "talking rather irresponsibly" about their deterrence measures against North Korea and said, "it is obvious that missile launches by Pyongyang were a response to the short-sighted confrontational military activities of the U.S. taking place around the DPRK."

And as for economic measures, she argued that, "we have stated many times and repeat now that imposing further sanctions of the DPRK is a dead-end road," and, "in North Korea's case, this measure yields no result whatsoever."

Like Geng, Evstigneeva called for a diplomatic path to resolve the ongoing escalation.

"We are convinced that the only way to resolve the issue around the Korean peninsula is to engage in a dialogue and search for political solutions that should account for the legitimate concerns," she said, "including security concerns, of all sides."

Update 10/05/22, 6:53 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information and background.