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South Korea, US fire own missiles as tension rises after North Korea's launch

A surface-to-surface missile is seen fired into the sea off the east coast in this handout picture provided by the Defense Ministry of South Korea on October 5, 2022. (Via Reuters)

South Korea and the United States have fired a volley of missiles off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea's latest launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over northern Japan.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement on Wednesday that South Korean and American troops had launched four Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles into the sea.

The surface-to-surface missiles, which are capable of flying around 200 miles (320 kilometers), hit mock targets and "demonstrated the allies' capability to deter further provocations," the South Korean military added.

The JCS separately confirmed that a South Korean Hyunmoo-2 missile had failed shortly after launch and crashed during the joint drills, but that no one was hurt.

It said the missile carried a warhead but that it did not explode, and apologized for causing residents to worry.

On Tuesday, the South Korean military said it detected one IRBM launched eastward past Japan, warning Pyongyang of a resolute response.

Hours after Pyongyang's missile launch, South Korean and US fighter jets staged a "precision bombing drill" in response, involving eight fighter jets in the Yellow Sea, between the Korean Peninsula and China.

Later on the same day, eight Japanese and four US fighter jets also carried out a joint military exercise in airspace west of the country's Kyushu region, according to the Japanese military.

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea's test in the "strongest terms," with the White House National Security Council calling it "dangerous and reckless."

The European Union also denounced the latest missile launch as "reckless and deliberately provocative action," saying it violated UN Security Council resolutions.

The Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss North Korea at the request of the United States.

The latest launch was Pyongyang's fifth in 10 days, amid military muscle-flexing by the United States, South Korea, and Japan in the region. It was also the first time North Korea launched a missile over Japanese territory since 2017.

North Korea has not reported on the launch or disclosed what type of missile was used.

However, analysts and security officials say it may have been a variant of the Hwasong-12 IRBM, which North Korea unveiled in 2017 as part of what it said was a plan to strike US military bases in Guam.

North Korea maintains that its weapon tests are meant to act as a deterrent against threats posed by the South and its Western allies amid regular war games in the region.

Japan, the US, and South Korea have been ramping up joint military drills to counter Pyongyang's growing nuclear capabilities. On Friday, they staged the first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years.

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