October 14, 2022 11:35
North Korea launched a flurry of provocations overnight on Friday. It fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the East Sea around 1:50 early Friday morning and about 170 artillery shells into the eastern and western maritime "buffer zones" between 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m., the Joint Chiefs of Staff here said.
The JCS said the provocations came after about a dozen military planes flew close to the border with the South, prompting Seoul to scramble fighter jets and other warplanes.
The JCS denounced the artillery volleys as "clear violations" of UN Security Council resolutions.
They came hard on the heels of two long-range cruise missiles being fired into the West Sea the previous day.
Cruise missiles are hard to intercept as they fly long distances on an irregular trajectory at a low altitude.
The North continues to perfect ways to avoid detection and interception by South Korean and U.S. missile defenses, firing projectiles from moving trains and reservoirs where they are hard to spot by surveillance.
The South Korean defense system consists of three strike platforms -- preemptive, defensive and retaliatory -- but they may be ineffective against the North's newest missiles.
"It's possible to intercept North Korean cruise missiles if detected because they're slow," a presidential official here claimed. "They pose no threat to the three-axis defense system."
But a security official said, "It seems that the North is seeking undetectable ways of firing missiles and developing new missiles that fly on an irregular trajectory in an attempt to incapacitate our preemptive kill-chain and other missile defense systems."
This is apparently why South Korea has asked the U.S. to share strategic nuclear weapons as a deterrent, a suggestion that has so far been met with polite silence from Washington.
Asked about the request on Thursday morning, President Yoon Suk-yeol said, "There're many opinions in Korea and the U.S. about how to deter nuclear proliferation. I'm listening to them and looking into various possibilities."
In response to North's latest missile provocations in recent weeks along with its possible impending nuclear test, the Foreign Ministry here said Friday that it has put 15 North Korean individuals and 16 institutions on a blacklist in its first unilateral sanctions in nearly five years.
The list includes officials and organizations linked to the North's procurement of weapons of mass destruction. "We strongly condemn North Korea's latest series of missile provocations," the ministry said.
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