North Korea tested two short-range ballistic missiles on Saturday, its neighbors said – the fourth round this week of weapons launches that drew swift and strong condemnation from rivals.
In an unusually strong rebuke of North Korea’s weapons programs, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea’s obsession with nuclear weapons is aggravating the suffering of its own people, and warned that he would face an “overwhelming response” from the South Korean and American military if he uses his nuclear weapons.
“North Korea has not given up its obsession with nuclear weapons and missiles, despite persistent international objection over the past 30 years,” Yoon said at an Armed Forces Day ceremony. “The development of nuclear weapons will plunge the lives of the North Korean people into further suffering.”
“If North Korea attempts to use nuclear weapons, it will face a resolute and overwhelming response from the South Korea-US alliance and our military,” Yoon said.
Yoon’s comments could enrage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who claimed Yoon’s government was run by “confrontational maniacs” and “gangsters”. Kim has previously rebuffed Yoon’s offers of massive aid and support packages in return for denuclearization.
The North’s testing spree this week is seen as a response to recent naval exercises between South Korea and the United States and other training involving Japan.
North Korea sees these military drills by allies as a rehearsal for an invasion and says they reveal US and South Korean “double standards” because they call the North’s weapons tests a provocation.
On Saturday, the South Korean, Japanese and US military said they detected the two North Korean missile launches.
South Korea said the takeoffs took place from the North Korean capital region.
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