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North Korea warns US against shooting down missile tests


North Korea said any decision to shoot down one of its test missiles would be considered a declaration of war and accused joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea of ​​being at the origin of the growing tensions, state media KCNA said on Tuesday.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, warned in a statement that Pyongyang would view it as a “declaration of war” if the United States took military action against the North’s strategic weapons tests.

She also hinted that the North might 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, but the issue has prompted renewed scrutiny since the North suggested it would fire more missiles over Japan.

“The Pacific Ocean does not belong to the dominium of the United States or Japan,” Kim said.

Analysts said if North Korea follows through on its threat to turn the Pacific Ocean into a ‘firing range’, it would allow the isolated, nuclear-armed state to make further technical progress to signal his military determination.

Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Pyongyang last year.
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Pyongyang last year.AP file

In a separate statement, the head of the foreign news section of the North Korean Foreign Ministry accused the United States of “aggravating” the situation by conducting a joint aerial exercise on Monday with a B-52 bomber and planning US-South Korean field exercises.

In response, South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Pyongyang’s “reckless nuclear and missile development” is to blame for the deteriorating situation.

The United States deployed the B-52 bomber for a joint exercise with South Korean fighter jets, in what the South Korean Defense Ministry called a show of force against nuclear and missile threats from the North Korea.

The two countries will conduct more than 10 days of large-scale military exercises known as “Freedom Shield” exercises starting next week.

On Tuesday, US and South Korean fighter jets practiced taking off quickly in a drill designed in response to North Korean threats to destroy airfields, Yonhap news agency reported.

About 28,500 American 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.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.