The US and the Republic of South Korea jointly condemned the recent ballistic missile launches by the Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK) in Arlington on Thursday, sending a “strong warning” to North Korea.
Speaking at a joint press conference with South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin offered his condolences for the deadly tragedy in Seoul, before he stated “We strongly condemn the DPRK’s irresponsible and reckless activities. As we said before, these kinds of activities are destabilising for the region, potentially. So we call on them to cease that type of activity and to begin to engage in serious dialogue.” He added that the countries will extend ‘Vigilant Storm’, joint military air drills by the US and South Korea.
Speaking on the issue, his counterpart Lee warned “Secretary Austin and I affirmed that any nuclear attack by the DPRK including the use of tactical nuclear weapons is unacceptable and result in the end of the Kim Jong-un regime by the overwhelming and decisive response of the alliance. This is a strong warning against the DPRK.” He added that North Korea should choose “the path of denuclearisation”.
South Korea claimed that Pyongyang had conducted three launches of ballistic missiles early on Thursday, including a suspected long-range missile. Residents in Niigata Prefecture were reportedly warned to take shelter inside buildings or underground, while the Tohoku, Joetsu and Hokuriku Shinkansen Lines were partially suspended.
Media reports citing South Korean officials claimed the intercontinental ballistic missile failed during its flight. Seoul has stated that North Korea has launched up to 30 missiles in recent days, while Pyongyang has blamed joint US, South Korean and Japanese military drills for the escalating tensions.