N Korea defends missile launches as defence against US threats | News

Pyongyang says recent ballistic missile launches have not endangered civil aviation or threatened neighboring countries.

North Korea has defended its recent spate of ballistic missile launches as a legitimate defense against what it called a decades-old threat from US forces.

The missile launches also did not affect civil aviation security or pose a threat to neighboring countries, North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA said on Saturday, citing officials and a statement from the country’s aviation authorities.

Pyongyang’s statement comes in response to recent criticism from the United Nations Civil Aviation Authority of North Korea’s six missile launches in a 12-day period, including an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew over Japan on Tuesday.

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“(The missile tests) did not pose a threat or damage to the security of civil aviation and the security of neighboring countries and regions,” KCNA reported, citing a spokesman for the country’s aviation administration.

INTERACTIVE missile launches and nuclear tests in North Korea

“The DPRK’s missile test launch is a regular and planned step in self-defense in defense of the country’s security and regional peace from the direct US military threats that have persisted for more than half a century,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted North Korea’s national aviation, as stated in a statement.

DPRK is the acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea’s official name.

Saturday’s statement was a rebuke to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and its recent condemnation of missile launches, which the UN panel said posed a serious security risk to international aviation.

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North Korea said it viewed such criticism as “a political provocation by the US and its vassal forces aimed at violating the DPRK’s sovereignty,” KCNA reported.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have intensified joint military drills and conducted additional naval drills involving the US Navy’s aircraft carrier strike group USS Ronald Reagan in recent weeks.

Seoul on Thursday deployed warplanes in response to an apparent North Korean bombing exercise near the border between the two countries. The exercise was believed to be the largest such formation of North Korean warplanes near the border.

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Analysts say Pyongyang has seized the opportunity of a world distracted by the conflict in Ukraine to conduct increasingly provocative weapons tests.

The missile launches are also part of a record year of weapons tests by North Korea and come amid leader Kim Jong Un’s declaration that his country is an “irreversible” nuclear power, effectively ending the possibility of denuclearization talks.

Officials in Seoul and Washington have been warning for months that Pyongyang could potentially conduct another nuclear test, likely after China’s Oct. 16 party convention.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan participates in a joint anti-submarine exercise between South Korea, the United States and Japan in waters off South Korea's east coast in South Korea
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, second from right, participates in a joint anti-submarine exercise with the South Korean Navy in waters off South Korea’s east coast in September 2022 [File: South Korea Defence Ministry via AP]

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