At a time when tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang are at their highest, North Korea fired several cruise missiles towards the Yellow Sea on Wednesday, January 24, the South Korean army announced. “Our military detected several cruise missiles launched by North Korea towards the Yellow Sea” at around 7 a.m. (11 p.m. in Paris on Tuesday), the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. .

“The detailed specifications are closely analyzed by South Korean and US intelligence services,” he added. Cruise missile tests do not fall under United Nations (UN) sanctions on North Korea, unlike ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

The shooting comes as South Korea conducts a special forces infiltration exercise off its east coast until Thursday, “in light of serious security concerns” with the North, according to the South’s navy. Korean. “We will accomplish our mission to deeply infiltrate the enemy’s territory and completely neutralize it, regardless of the circumstances,” the exercise commander said in a statement.

Tensions between the two Koreas have sharply worsened in recent months. The two enemy countries renounced agreements concluded in 2018 to prevent armed incidents, strengthened military assets on the border and carried out live ammunition artillery exercises near each other’s territory.

War threats

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said South Korea was his country’s “main enemy.” He disbanded government agencies responsible for reunification and contacts with the South, and threatened to declare war if his neighbor encroached on his territory “even by 0.001 mm.” He also called for constitutional changes allowing the North to “occupy” Seoul in the event of war, according to the official KCNA news agency.

At the end of December, Kim Jong-un ordered the acceleration of military preparations for a “war” that could “be launched at any time.” He denounced a “persistent and uncontrollable crisis situation”, according to him initiated by Seoul and Washington by the holding of their joint military exercises in the region.

The tone also rose a notch in South Korea, where conservative President Yoon Suk Yeol warned that Seoul would respond “several times stronger” in the event of provocation, highlighting the country’s “overwhelming response capabilities.” » of his army.

In recent months, North Korea has increased its testing of weapons banned by the UN. In early January, it launched a solid-fueled hypersonic missile and fired live ammunition near the maritime border with the South, triggering evacuation orders on several South Korean islands close to the coast. North Koreans. Seoul responded with counter-exercises in the same region, on the west coast of the peninsula.

On Friday, Pyongyang then announced that it had tested an “undersea nuclear weapons system” in response to naval maneuvers carried out by South Korea, the United States and Japan in the waters south of the peninsula.

North Korea also managed to put a spy satellite into orbit in late 2023 after receiving, according to Seoul, technological help from Russia, in exchange for arms deliveries for the war in Ukraine.