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DPRK missile launch provokes new military tensions at Korean peninsula

The Republic of Korea Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement Tuesday that the DPRK fired off a ballistic missile into its eastern waters from an area near Banghyeon, North Pyongan Province in the DPRK’s northwest at around 9:40 a.m. local time (0040 GMT).

The DPRK declared later in the day that it has successfully launched an international ballistic missile, calling it a milestone in its missile development program. The DPRK lauded the launch of the ICBM as a historic event in boosting its defense capabilities to counter the threats of the United States, Korean Central Television reported in a special program. DPRK leader Kim Jong-un said on Wednesday that his nation will “demonstrate its mettle to the US” and never put its weapons programs up for negotiations, the Associated Press reported.

China, Korea’s neighbor, called for all related parties to exercise restraint and urged Pyongyang to stop actions that violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Meanwhile, a day after The Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States conducted joint ballistic missile exercises. ROK’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement that the missile units of the ROK and the US carried out joint ballistic missile drills in the East Sea at 7 am local time (2200 GMT on Tuesday) in response to the DPRK’s repeated ballistic missile provocations.

The joint exercises mobilized the South Korean military’s Hyunmoo-II ballistic missiles and the eighth US Army’s ATACMS ground-to-ground missiles to show their combined capability in emergency situations, the statement said. The joint drills were conducted as South Korean President Moon Jae-in proposed it to US President Donald Trump, Yoon Young-chan, Moon’s senior press secretary, told reporters.

The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting about the situation on Wednesday in New York.

Between the two missile launches, the foreign ministries of China and Russia issued a joint statement on the peninsula issue, stating “serious concerns” about the situation.

The escalating political and military tensions in the region could trigger armed conflict, and the international community should take collective measures to peacefully resolve this through consultation, the statement said.

China and Russia proposed that the DPRK voluntarily make political decisions and announce the suspension of its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, and that the US and the ROK accordingly suspend their large-scale joint military drill.

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