SEOUL, Nov 4 (Reuters) – South Korea said it had shot down warplanes in response to 180 North Korean warplanes near their shared border on Friday, and Pyongyang also demanded that the United States and South Korea halt “disturbing” military exercises.
North Korea’s moves follow more than 80 missile launches overnight and the launch of several missiles into the sea on Thursday, including a failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
North Korean aircraft were found in several locations north of the “intelligence line” north of the Military Separation Line between the two Koreas, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The flight took place between 11 a.m. (0200 GMT) and 3 p.m. The line is drawn north of the military border and is used as a base for South Korean air defense, a South Korean official said.
He declined to give a linear distance from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) but local reports put it at 20 to 50 km (12 to 31 miles).
South Korea shot down 80 aircraft, including F-35A stealth fighters, in response, while about 240 jets participating in the Vigilant Storm exercise with the United States continued their operations, the military said.
North Korea fired at least 23 missiles on Wednesday – a single-day record.
The announcement this week prompted the United States and South Korea to increase Vigilant Storm military exercises, which has angered Pyongyang.
North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said the United States should stop the “provocative” game and warned that “provocation must be followed by an endless confrontation.”
The Pentagon on Friday said the drills with South Korea are being extended until November 5.
“We remain in close cooperation with the ROK ally on any further developments and security measures on the Korean Peninsula,” a US military spokesman told Reuters.
Earlier, Pak Jong Chon, the secretary of the Central Committee of the North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said that Washington and Seoul made a very dangerous decision by increasing the exercises, and they are “pushing” things to prevent them from collapsing.
The United States has called for a public meeting of the UN Security Council to be held on Friday to discuss North Korea, which has long been barred from detonating weapons by UN resolutions.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby said North Korea’s “incendiary actions” and “increasing aggression” are causing unnecessary insecurity and instability and will be discussed at a Security Council meeting.
“We urge all countries in the Council and outside the Council to condemn violations of the UN Security Council,” he said.
“We also think it is important that our Security Council partners, including the countries that helped implement these resolutions, come forward to help us limit North Korea’s ability to advance these illegal programs,” he said.
A senior official of the United States said on Thursday that although the United States has said since May that North Korea is planning to resume nuclear tests, it was not known when it might do it.
The United States believes that China and Russia have the ability to force North Korea to stop testing nuclear weapons, the official told Reuters.
In recent years the UN Security Council has been divided over how to deal with North Korea and in May, China and Russia opposed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions in response to North Korea’s weapons explosions.
A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry addressed the UN meeting and said North Korea has been taking “precautionary measures” that are acceptable.
10 North Korean warplanes made the same move last month, prompting South Korea to attack the aircraft.
The heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula comes amid concerns that North Korea may resume nuclear tests for the first time since 2017.
In a joint statement on Friday, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven countries said that any nuclear test or reckless action by North Korea must be met with a swift, coordinated, and strong global response.
Meeting in Washington on Thursday, the Secretary of Defense of the United States Lloyd Austin and the Minister of Defense of South Korea Lee Jong-sup promised to find new ways to show the “resoluteness and strength” of the alliance in response to repeated provocations of North Korea.
Josh Smith reports from Seoul; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom and Chris Gallagher in Washington; Edited by Jack Kim, Gerry Doyle and Alistair Bell
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