During a visit to Seoul, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier sharply condemned North Korea's latest missile tests and demanded that they be stopped. An unprecedented series of tests has been observed since the beginning of the year, and the rocket salvos of the past few days have made the situation considerably worse, said Steinmeier on Friday after talks with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. "I say with all clarity: This escalation is unacceptable and the regime in Pyongyang alone is responsible for it."
"These tests violate UN Security Council resolutions and endanger international security." Germany has great respect for South Korea's tireless efforts to restart the negotiation process with the aim of denuclearizing North Korea. "Germany is ready to provide support," Steinmeier assured.
North Korea has tested numerous missiles in recent days. On the night of Friday, the North Korean military also fired artillery barrages at the so-called "maritime buffer zone" in the sea area between North and South Korea. According to the South Korean military, around 80 artillery shells landed in the buffer zone. South Korea's chiefs of staff said the shelling was a "clear violation" of the agreement that established the buffer zone.
North Korea is conducting its missile and artillery tests, while South Korea is observing state days of mourning after last weekend's stampede that killed more than 150 in the capital Seoul. Pyongyang's "provocations" violated the "commandments of humanity," said a spokeswoman for South Korea's unification ministry.
The Seoul government condemned the "continuing threats" based on North Korea's "reckless development of nuclear weapons and missiles". North Korea had already fueled tensions in the region by firing rockets again in the past few days. According to South Korean information, Pyongyang shot down an ICBM on Thursday, but the test, according to the South Korean military, "probably failed", as the South Korean military announced.
In response to the latest missile tests, the USA called on the international community to fully implement the sanctions against Pyongyang and extended the joint military maneuvers with South Korea under the name "Vigilant Storm" until Saturday.
North Korea had already fired 23 missiles on Wednesday. According to the South Korean army, one of the missiles crossed the de facto maritime border between North and South Korea. According to the General Staff, it came "closest than any missile since the end of the Korean War in 1953" to South Korean territorial waters, hitting the sea just 57 kilometers east of mainland South Korea.
Washington and Seoul have been warning for months that North Korea could conduct a nuclear weapons test in the near future. It would be the first such test since 2017. North Korea has carried out six nuclear weapons tests since 2006.