U.S., South Korea conduct ballistic missile drill following provocation

By Elizabeth Shim  |  July 5, 2017 at 1:22 PM
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July 5 (UPI) -- The United States and South Korea conducted a ballistic missile drill, following the launch of what North Korea has claimed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile on the Fourth of July.

The allies launched the South Korea-developed Hyunmoo-2 missile into the East Sea, known as the Sea of Japan, News 1 reported.

Seoul's joint chiefs of staff also released an image of strategic weapons on Wednesday that are to be used in potential decapitation operations to remove the North Korean leadership, according to Newsis.

But South Korea's defense ministry remained cautious in confirming North Korea's claim of a successful ICBM test, involving the Hwasong-14 missile.

North Korea claimed the missile reached an altitude of 1,731 miles, and that the projectile flew 580 miles for nearly 40 minutes.

Defense Minister Han Min-koo told a South Korean parliamentary committee on Wednesday that Pyongyang had not entirely achieved atmospheric re-entry of a "missile equipped with a large nuclear warhead," contrary to North Korean claims.

"It is hard to conclude that [re-entry] was completely successful," Han said.

The South Korean official also said North Korea could soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.

Maj. Gen Chang Kyung-soo, director general for policy planning at the defense ministry, said the conditions are ready for "North Korea to conduct a nuclear test anytime at the Punggye-ri site in North Hamgyong Province," according to Korea Economic Daily.

North Korea has frequently aired videos of its more successful launches, and South Korea may be responding in kind.

Seoul's military sent a warning message to the North, with a video showing the launches of the Hyunmoo-2C, the air-to-ground missile Taurus, and the SLAM-ER, a precision-guided, air-launched cruise missile, Newsis reported.

Videos of exercises involving the U.S. B-1B strategic bomber were also released, according to the report.

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