North Korea launches suspected ballistic missiles into the sea

SEOUL, South Korea (Associated Press)-The South Korean and Japanese military said that North Korea launched a suspected ballistic missile into the sea on Wednesday. This is the first public launch of a weapon about two months later, indicating that Pyongyang is not interested in rejoining denuclearization. . Negotiations will be made soon, preferring to focus on increasing its arsenal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed at a high-profile meeting of the ruling party last week to further improve his military capabilities — but did not reveal any new policies against the United States or South Korea — after the latest launch.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea launched a suspected ballistic missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday morning. It said that South Korean and US intelligence agencies are trying to analyze more information about the launch.

The Ministry of Defense of Japan also discovered North Korea’s launch, saying that the country was likely to have launched a missile.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters: “We are very sorry that North Korea has continued to launch missiles since last year.”

Kishida said that other details about North Korea’s launch could not be immediately obtained, including where the suspected missile landed and whether there was any damage. He said he has ordered officials to confirm the safety of ships and aircraft in areas where the suspected missile may fly and fall.

Wednesday’s launch was the first of its kind since North Korea tested a series of newly developed weapons (including nuclear-capable missiles) between September and November. These missiles enabled the United States’ two main allies in the region, South Korea and Japan is within the attackable range. Some experts said that North Korea is exerting greater pressure on its competitors to accept it as a nuclear power in order to win relief from economic sanctions on the country.

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it is willing to resume nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anytime, anywhere” without preconditions. So far, North Korea has rejected this proposal, saying that the hostility of the United States has not changed.

The outgoing South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in his New Year speech on Tuesday that he will continue to seek ways to restore relations with North Korea and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula until his five-year term ends in May. He recently promoted a political and symbolic declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War in order to reduce hatred.

U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program failed in 2019 because it failed in the debate over how much sanctions relief should be granted to North Korea in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear facilities. This is a limited denuclearization step. Since then, Kim Jong Un has threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal, although his country’s economy has suffered a major setback due to the COVID-19 pandemic, continued US-led sanctions, and his own mismanagement.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University, said: “North Korea did not express its willingness to negotiate denuclearization or its interest in the declaration of the end of the war. Instead, it sent a signal, whether it was a variant of omicron or No domestic food shortage will prevent its radical missile development.” Seoul National University.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Korean Studies University in Seoul, said that North Korea may have tested a developmental hypersonic missile or a nuclear-capable KN-23 missile with high mobility and low ballistic flight capabilities. He said that North Korea may advance its military build-up plan.

At the plenary meeting of the ruling Labor Party Central Committee held last week, King once again vowed to improve his country’s military capabilities and ordered the production of stronger and more advanced weapons systems. The official media reported on the meeting that North Korea had proposed a “tactical direction” for North Korea’s foreign relations, including South Korea, but did not elaborate. It does not mention the United States.

Last month, Kim Jong-un celebrated his 10th anniversary in power. Since the death of his father and long-time ruler Kim Jong Il in December 2011, Kim Jong Un has established absolute power in the country and conducted an unusually large number of weapons tests as part of an effort to produce nuclear missiles that can reach the United States. mainland.

During Kim Jong-un’s 10-year rule, North Korea conducted 62 rounds of ballistic missile tests. In contrast, his grandfather and country’s founder Kim Il-sung conducted 9 rounds during his 46-year rule and Kim Jong-il’s 17-year rule. 22 rounds of ballistic missile tests were conducted. Figures for South Korea and the United States. Four of North Korea’s six nuclear tests and three intercontinental ballistic missile launches were all carried out under Kim Jong Un’s rule.

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Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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