According to a statement from North Korea’s state media KCNA, the country has warned the United States that any move to shoot down one of its test missiles would be considered a declaration of war. Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, stated that if the US took military action against the North’s strategic weapon tests, Pyongyang would see it as a “declaration of war”. She also suggested that the North could fire more missiles into the Pacific Ocean. The United States and its allies have never shot down North Korean ballistic missiles, which are banned by the United Nations Security Council. However, the question has drawn new scrutiny since the North suggested it would fire more missiles over Japan.
In a separate statement, the chief of the Foreign News Section at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the US of “aggravating” the situation by conducting a joint air drill with a B-52 bomber on Monday and planning U.S.-South Korea field exercises. The two countries will conduct more than 10 days of large-scale military exercises known as the “Freedom Shield” drills starting next week.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, responded by blaming Pyongyang’s “reckless nuclear and missile development” for the deteriorating situation. The United States deployed the B-52 bomber for a joint drill with South Korean fighter jets, in what South Korea’s defence ministry said was a show of force against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. On Tuesday, US and South Korean warplanes practised quickly taking off in a drill designed in response to North Korean threats to destroy airfields, Yonhap news agency reported.
North Korea’s army said its enemy launched 30 rounds of artillery near the border on Tuesday and demanded an immediate halt to what it called “provocative actions”. However, South Korea denied the claim and said it was groundless. Approximately 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty, leaving the countries technically at war.
Kim Yo Jong’s statement is a response to a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea, which she blamed for growing tensions. The exercise included the deployment of a B-52 bomber and is in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. The US and its allies have never shot down North Korean ballistic missiles, which are banned by the United Nations Security Council. However, analysts have said that if North Korea follows through on its threat to turn the Pacific Ocean into a “firing range”, it would allow the isolated and nuclear-armed state to make technical advances in addition to signalling its military resolve. The situation remains tense, with North Korea warning that any move to shoot down one of its test missiles would be considered a declaration of war.