In yet another show of force, North Korea conducted an unannounced missile launch in direct response to the military exercise being conducted by the U.S. and South Korea.
On Thursday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Pyongyang had launched 2 short-range missiles into the sea from the capital region, some 480 miles away. The missiles crashed into the ocean somewhere between the Korean peninsula and Japan.
The joint exercises between the U.S. and South Korea are the latest in a series of joint drills that have dated back a few months. Pyongyang has said that the continuous joint exercises, which are the fifth such drills conducted on the border with North Korea are "provocative and irresponsible."
Given that Thursday's missile launch came immediately after the initiation of the drills, there is no question that North Korea's launch was a direct response and show of force to the U.S. military.
A spokesperson for the North Korean Defense Ministry said, "Our army strongly denounces the provocative and irresponsible moves of the puppet military authorities escalating the military tension in the region despite its repeated warnings, and wants them solemnly."
"Our armed forces will fully counter any form of demonstrative moves and provocation of the enemies," the statement concluded.
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Japanese officials released a statement condemning Pyongyang's show of force saying, "These launches are clear violations of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions, and demonstrate the threat the DPRK's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to the region, international peace and security, and the global non-proliferation regime."
Washington and Tokyo have continued to strengthen their military ties in recent months with the two now in talks about Japan being brought under the U.S. nuclear umbrella in case the country were ever to come under existential threat.
In April, the U.S. military also announced that it would be sending nuclear-armed submarines to South Korean ports for the first time in forty years.