As Harris gaffes, North Korea fires fourth ballistic missile in a week raising national security concerns

North Korea is stepping up its aggression once again, firing at least four ballistic missiles within a week following the egregious gaffe by Vice President Kamala Harris claiming the US has a “strong alliance” with “the Republic of North Korea.”

(FRANCE 24 English)

The unfortunate misstep was made during prepared remarks at the Korean Peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). She meant to say the Republic of Korea, which is South Korea’s official name.

“I cannot state enough that the commitment of the United States to the defense of the Republic of Korea is iron-clad and that we will do everything in our power to ensure that it has meaning in every way that the words suggest,” Harris said on her visit to the DMZ.

The latest missiles launched by North Korea landed in the East Sea Saturday, South Korea’s military told Yonhap. The missiles are the third and fourth short-range ballistic missiles fired by the Hermit Kingdom in the last seven days. North Korea fired two of those missiles into the sea just hours after Harris left South Korea on Thursday.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre claimed the missile tests were “not unusual.” She also stated that it wouldn’t stop Harris from going to the DMZ.

(Video Credit: Bloomberg Markets and Finance)

“As you know, North Korea has a history of doing these types of tests,” Jean-Pierre equivocated during a press conference.

The missile launches came just hours before South Korea was set to hold an event marking Armed Forces Day with its key military assets on display. South Korea, the United States, and Japan staged an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the East Sea.

“The recent series of North Korea’s ballistic missiles is an act of significant provocation that undermines peace not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in the international community, and a clear breach of UN Security Council resolutions,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a text message sent to reporters.

“Our military will maintain a firm readiness posture while tracking and monitoring related movements in close cooperation with the US in preparation against additional provocations,” they added, according to Yonhap.

In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said that the North’s move “highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.” It reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to the defense of its Northeast Asian allies.

North Korea’s test-firing of short-range missiles has raised speculation that it has been aggressively pushing to develop tactical nuclear arms.

In a strong rebuke of North Korea’s weapons programs, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said its “obsession” with nuclear weapons is causing the further suffering of its own people, and warned of an “overwhelming response” from South Korean and US militaries should such weapons be used.

“North Korea hasn’t abandoned its obsession with nukes and missiles despite the persistent international objection in the past 30 years,” Yoon said during an Armed Forces Day ceremony at the military headquarters in central South Korea, according to the Associated Press. “The development of nuclear weapons will plunge the lives of North Korean people into further pains.”

“If North Korea attempts to use nukes, it’ll face a resolute, overwhelming response by the South Korea-US alliance and our military,” Yoon proclaimed.

According to the AP, experts claim the weapons’ reported low and “irregular” trajectory suggest they were likely nuclear-capable, highly maneuverable missiles that are modeled after Russia’s Iskander missile. They posit that North Korea has developed the Iskander-like weapon to defeat South Korean and US missile defenses and strike key targets in South Korea, including US military bases there.

Last month, North Korea adopted a new law allowing for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons.

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