North Korea fires another missile as South salvages parts of Soviet-era weapon

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SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Reuters) – North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile into the sea on Wednesday as South Korea said it had identified debris from a previous launch as part of a Soviet-era SA-5 surface-to-air missile.

The Japanese coast guard said the ballistic missile appeared to have fallen into the sea minutes after the launch was reported.

The missile flew to a height of up to 50 km and had a range of 250 km, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters.

He said the government had made a strong protest to North Korea through diplomatic channels through Beijing, and that Tokyo had strongly condemned the launch.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also said it had detected the launch of an unspecified ballistic missile from North Korea.

The launch came after South Korea completed an analysis of what it had initially said was part of a North Korean short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) that landed near South Korean waters last week.

However, the analysis showed that the piece, about 3 meters (3.3 yards) long and 2 meters wide, was part of an SA-5 anti-aircraft missile, the Defense Department said, citing its appearance and characteristics.

At the time, the ministry strongly condemned the missile launch, calling it a violation of a 2018 inter-Korean military pact banning all activities that fuel border tensions.

“This SA-5 missile launch was a clearly deliberate, deliberate provocation,” it said in a statement. “The SA-5 also has surface-to-surface missile characteristics and Russia has used similar missiles in Ukraine for surface-to-surface attacks.”

A South Korean naval vessel used an underwater probe to salvage the missile, which came in last week as the north tested multiple missiles, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), protesting joint air exercises by South Korea and the United States.

It was the first time a North Korean ballistic missile had landed near South Korean waters.

The North Korean military said the launches were simulated attacks on South Korea and the United States, and criticized their exercises as a “dangerous, aggressive war exercise”.

South Korean and US officials have also said Pyongyang has made technical preparations to test a nuclear device, the first time since 2017.

The SA-5 is an air defense missile originally designed by the Soviet Union, where it was named the S-200, to shoot down strategic bombers and other high-altitude targets.

The missile was exported around the world and is still in use in at least a dozen countries, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Missile Defense Project.

North Korea took delivery of SA-5 systems in the mid-1980s, according to “The Armed Forces of North Korea: On the Path of Songun,” a 2020 study by Dutch researchers.

“Two sites equipped with these very long-range systems cover all of North Korean airspace and a significant portion of that of the south,” the researchers wrote.

“But because they are designed to counter strategic aircraft, their use against modern high-speed jets like the F-15 and F-16 is questionable to say the least.”

Reporting by Hyonhee Shinn and Josh Smith; Additional coverage by Kantaro Komiya and Daniel Leussink in Tokyo; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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