Seoul, Mar 22 (EFE).- North Korea launched multiple cruise missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, according to the South Korean military, in what seems to be another weapons test in response to joint military drills between South Korea and the United States.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected multiple cruise missile launches from Hamhung on the North’s east coast.

It was the 10th weapons test carried out this year by North Korea.

Five of the missile launches were carried out in response to the Freedom Shield military exercise that began on Mar.13.

The annual joint drill concludes on Thursday.

“Under the firm combined defense posture, our military will successfully wrap up the FS (Freedom Shield) and continue to carry out the ongoing Warrior Shield in a high-intensity manner,” a JCS statement said.

The Warrior Shield will continue to run for the next few days, and a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is expected to take part in the war games next week.

Over the weekend, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea, claiming that it was a tactical “nuclear counterattack” drill.

The cruise missile test is not included in the UN Security Council resolutions that ban the North Korean weapons of mass destruction program.

On Mar.16, the North Korean military fired an intercontinental ballistic missile, Hwasong-17, potentially with the longest range, into the Sea of Japan.

North Korea has repeatedly warned that it would respond forcefully to the Freedom Shield exercises, the largest the allies have conducted since 2018.

Meanwhile, South Korea and the US plan to conduct their “largest-ever” joint live-fire drills in June to mark the 70th anniversary of their alliance.

The South Korean defense ministry said Wednesday the military would demonstrate their militaries’ technological edge and highlight their focus on “realizing peace through strength via action.”

The allies have carried out massive combined live-fire drills less than 10 times, including the last in 2017.

The Yonhap news agency said South Korea was looking to hold the Armed Forces Day ceremony with the US forces in September to demonstrate an “overwhelming” deterrence and response capabilities against North Korean threats.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are heightened amid a record number of weapons tests by the North Korean regime last year, large-scale joint military drills by South Korea and the United States, and the possibility that Pyongyang is ready to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017.

Faced with the apparent lack of will to promote détente on both sides, experts have pointed to the growing danger of a miscalculation that could have fatal consequences. EFE


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