North Korea fired two missiles into the sea and vowed “merciless” retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational.
The missile launches came with a stern warning from the nuclear-armed North Korean People’s Army (KPA) that this year’s military drills would bring the peninsula “towards the brink of war.”
“The situation on the Korean peninsula is again inching close to the brink of a war,” a spokesman for the KPA General Staff was quoted as saying Monday by the North’s official KCNA news agency.
“The only means to cope with the aggression and war by the US imperialists and their followers is neither dialogue nor peace. They should be dealt with only by merciless strikes.”
The South Korean defense ministry said the two Scud missiles were fired from the western port city of Nampo and fell into the sea off the east coast — a distance of nearly 500 kilometers (310 miles).
UN resolutions prohibit any ballistic missile test by North Korea and ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said Pyongyang appeared intent on triggering a “security crisis.”
“We will respond sternly and strongly to any provocation,” Kim told reporters.
The Japanese government said it had issued a strong protest to the North given the danger such missile launches posed to aviation and shipping.
Missile tests have long been a preferred North Korean method of expressing anger and displeasure with what it views as confrontational behavior by the South and its allies.