indianarrative

By firing a self-made SLBM, is South Korea telling US that it is ready to fight its own battles?

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The South Korean submarine missile launch has surprised the world (Photo: IANS)

A major weapons race is in the offing in North-East Asia with both the Koreas launching missiles within hours of each other this Wednesday.

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles in contravention of UN resolutions. The Japanese Defence Ministry confirmed that the North Korean missiles landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) somewhere between Japan and Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga condemned the North Korean launch as "outrageous" and its ally--the US, said it posed a threat to the region and to the world.

The Wednesday missile launches were the North's attempt at a new launch system--the railway-borne missile system. Photographs showed the missile being fired from a stationary train parked in a mountainous area.

This was Pyongyang's second missile launch in three days. It had earlier test fired a long-range missile on Monday, which had prompted an urgent meeting between the US, Japan and South Korea.

What turned out to be surprising was that the South Koreans responded by launching their own missile within hours.

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A statement by President Moon Jae-in's office said that the indigenous ballistic missile was launched on Wednesday afternoon. This was the country's first submarine fired missile that was targeted to hit a designated object.

The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by South Korea has made it the seventh country to own such technology.

The importance of this event can be gauged from the statement issued by South Korea's presidential office, which said: "The possession of an SLBM has a significant meaning for the purpose of securing deterrence capabilities responding to omni-directional threats and will play a big role in the establishment of national self-defense and peace on the Korean Peninsula in the future".

The swift South Korean response is as much a hint to the US, besides its norther neighbour North Korea, that it is getting battle ready to fight its own conflicts.

The two Koreas are locked in an intense rivalry as both are developing and also procuring weapons from their allies. India Narrative had earlier reported that Seol is developing an indigenous aircraft carrier as well.

The South Korean launch came around the same time as the Chinese and the South Koreans were holding talks to improve ties.

The region has become increasingly tense with numerous territorial disputes and rivalries playing around. The other countries that are locked in tensions include China and Japan over disputed islands, China and Taiwan over the latter's sovereignty, China and South-East Asian nations over Beijing's claims over the South China Sea. Suspicions remain between South Korea and Japan as well.

The US too has mobilised its allies with Germany, France and the UK sending their warships in the region in a bid to keep the shipping lanes free and open.

With the two Koreas launching missiles on the same day, tensions have gone up a notch further in a region feeling considerable heat due to China's muscle-flexing.