On Tuesday, North Korea announced that their launch on Monday that resulted in four missiles landing in the Sea of Japan was a training exercise to practice hitting U.S. bases in Japan. North’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong Un called for the drills and that the military units involved in carrying it out are “tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency.”
“Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets” the KCNA said of Kim Jong Un, praising the Hwasong artillery unit responsible for the test launch.
KCNA also reported that Kim Jong Un said that the “four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation.”
The government-run news agency added that the Hwasong artillery unit are specifically “tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency,” adding that the launch demonstrated the North’s capabilities to “wipe out” the enemy with a “merciless nuclear strike.”
Monday’s missile launch expedited the process of the U.S. deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system to South Korea. South Korea and the U.S. announced the plan to deploy the THAAD last July, but the highly controversial defense system created tension between China and South Korea, with Beijing denouncing the move as a “clear, present and substantive threat to China’s security interests.”
Three of the four missiles fired by North Korea fell within the bounds of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a 200-nautical-mile area where Tokyo has sovereign rights, known as its exclusive economic zone. The provocative actions by North Korea caused Japan to move their nation’s threat alert to the highest level.
The Pentagon released a readout from a phone call between Secretary Jim Mattis and Japan’s Defense Minister, Tomomi Inada, in which Mattis reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to its allies in the region.
“Secretary Mattis and Minister Inada both agreed that these launches are an unacceptable and irresponsible act that undermines security and stability in the region,” the statement said. “Secretary Mattis reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to Japan including its extended deterrence commitment.”