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N. Korea's multiple provocations seen as retaliation against int'l condemnation: experts

2024-07-23 03:58:20      点击:389
People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea,<strong></strong> at Seoul Station, Thursday. AP-Yonhap

People watch a news program broadcasting a file image of a missile launch by North Korea, at Seoul Station, Thursday. AP-Yonhap

Pyongyang fires around 10 short-range missiles toward East SeaBy Kwak Yeon-soo

North Korea has escalated tensions with South Korea through a series of provocations, including deploying balloons laden with trash, launching short-range ballistic missiles, and attempting GPS jamming.

Seoul, in conjunction with the international community, is condemning these provocations, some of which are perceived as violations of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and the Armistice Agreement.

On Thursday morning, North Korea fired around 10 short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea. The missiles flew around 350 kilometers before splashing into the waters east of the Korean Peninsula, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile launch as a clear provocation that seriously threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” the JCS said, adding it closely shared related information with the U.S. and Japan as the North's launches of ballistic missiles are violations of UNSC resolutions.

North Korea continued its GPS jamming attacks for a second day, the JCS confirmed in a separate statement. "We detected the signal near the de facto inter-Korean maritime border in the West Sea. The jamming persisted for about an hour but did not disrupt military operations," according to the statement.

The missile launch comes a day after more than 260 balloons filled with trash and what is presumed to be feces, sent by the North, were found in various locations in the South. The balloon release was an apparent retaliation against South Korean activists for sending anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets across the border. Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, vowed to send “dozens of times more” balloons to the South.

The United Nations Command (UNC) also said it would launch an investigation into the case.

“The North's military action of deploying mass numbers of trash-laden balloons that can cause harm to local populations is not only offensive and unsanitary, but constitutes a violation of the Armistice Agreement,” the UNC said in a statement.

A unification ministry official suspected that the series of provocations were intended to “cover up the failure of a spy satellite launch earlier this week,” saying it is unusual to fire some 10 missiles at once. On Monday, North Korea's attempt to put a spy satellite into orbit failed due to a suspected engine problem.

This photo, provided by a reader, shows a big balloon carrying trash, presumably sent by North Korea, found in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. Yonhap

This photo, provided by a reader, shows a big balloon carrying trash, presumably sent by North Korea, found in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, Wednesday. Yonhap

However, experts argue that the failed satellite launch itself is not the issue. Rather, it's the response from the international community, including the U.S., the U.N., and Japan, that appears to have prompted the country to escalate the crisis level on the peninsula.

“They (provocative actions) appear to be a reaction to South Korea carrying out joint air drills with the U.S. and joining Japan to call for denuclearization. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres’s remarks condemning the attempted launch of North Korea’s satellite, and the UNSC’s plan to convene a meeting on Friday also seemed to prompt the North to carry out provocations,” said Lim Eul-chul, a professor of North Korean studies at Kyungnam University.

Hong Min, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, echoed that view.

“North Korea claims the satellite launch was an exercise of its right to self-defense and it flew balloons in retaliation against South Korean activists. The North says it did that to safeguard the regime,” he said.

North Korea watchers have cautioned about the potential for a serious escalation in a tit-for-tat cycle if South Korea retaliates.

Lim said the UNC could act as a mediator by conducting a formal investigation into the matter.

Hong said that South Korea also bears responsibility for sending anti-Pyongyang balloons to the North.

“It is self-contradictory for us to accuse the North only for sending balloons. Whether it was carried out by the government or private organizations, the South’s action may constitute a violation of international law,” Hong said.

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