By FOSTER KLUG and YOUKYUNG LEE
SEOUL, South Korea — Following U.S. warnings to North Korea of a “massive military response,” South Korea fired missiles into the sea to simulate an attack on the North’s main nuclear test site on Monday, a day after North Korea detonated its largest-ever nuclear test explosion.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry also said Monday that North Korea appeared to be planning a future missile launch, possibly of an ICBM, to show off its claimed ability to target the United States with nuclear weapons, though it was unclear when this might happen.
The heated words from the United States and the military maneuvers in South Korea are becoming familiar responses to North Korea’s rapid, as-yet unchecked pursuit of a viable arsenal of nuclear-tipped missiles that can strike the United States. The most recent, and perhaps most dramatic, advance came Sunday in an underground test of what leader Kim Jong Un’s government claimed was a hydrogen bomb, the North’s sixth nuclear test since 2006.
The United Nations Security Council planned to hold its second emergency meeting about North Korea in a week on Monday to discuss responses to the test.
In Seoul, Chang Kyung-soo, an official with South Korea’s Defense Ministry, told lawmakers on Monday that it was seeing preparations in the North for an ICBM test but didn’t provide details about how officials had reached that assessment. Chang also said the yield from the latest nuclear detonation appeared to be about 50 kilotons, which would mark a “significant increase” from North Korea’s past nuclear tests.
In a series of tweets, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to halt all trade with countries doing business with North Korea, a warning to China, and faulted South Korea for what he called “talk of appeasement.”
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, told reporters in Beijing on Monday that China regarded as “unacceptable a situation in which on the one hand we work to resolve this issue peacefully but on the other hand our own interests are subject to sanctions and jeopardized. This is neither objective nor fair.”
South Korea’s military said its live-fire exercise was meant to “strongly warn” North Korea. The drill involved F-15 fighter jets and the country’s land-based “Hyunmoo” ballistic missiles firing into the Sea of Japan.
The target was set considering the distance to North Korea’s test site and the exercise was…