North Korea launched a “suspected ballistic missile” towards the sea, the South Korean army announced on Tuesday, less than a week after Pyongyang claimed to have tested a hypersonic missile.
The projectile was fired during a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council over the testing last week of what Pyongyang described as a hypersonic missile.
The projectile was fired at the sea east of the Korean peninsula at 07:27 a.m. (22:27 GMT, Monday), the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed that “an object which could be a ballistic missile” was launched by North Korea.
Hours before the shooting, six countries, including the United States and Japan, had urged North Korea to stop its “destabilizing actions” ahead of a closed meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the subject. last week’s test of what Pyongyang touted as a hypersonic missile.
France, UK, Ireland and Albania have joined in the call “to refrain from further destabilizing action (…) and to engage in constructive dialogue towards our common goal of complete denuclearization. “.
“It is deeply regrettable that North Korea continues to launch missiles,” Kishida told reporters.
According to experts, Pyongyang may have intentionally coincided its shooting with the UN meeting.
“The launch has political and military motives,” Shin Beom-chul, a researcher at the Korea National Strategy Research Institute, told AFP.
“North Korea is continuing its tests to diversify its nuclear arsenal, but it planned the firing on the day of the UN Security Council meeting to maximize its political impact,” he added.
– Military reinforcement –
According to Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University for Women in Seoul, the frequency of testing indicates that Pyongyang may make launches ahead of the Beijing Olympics next month.
North Korea was banned from participating in the Winter Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after refusing to participate in the Tokyo Summer Games in 2021 due to a pandemic.
Since Kim Jong Un came to power ten years ago, Pyongyang has made rapid progress in military technology, at the cost of international sanctions.
Despite an economic situation made even worse by the pandemic, Mr. Kim assured in December that he would continue to strengthen his military arsenal.
In 2021, North Korea, equipped with nuclear weapons, claimed to have successfully tested a new type of sea-to-surface ballistic missile (SLBM), a long-range cruise missile, a piece of weaponry launched from a train and what she described as a hypersonic warhead.
South Korea doubts Pyongyang’s ability to launch hypersonic missiles, saying last week’s firing is not a major advance over previous ballistic missiles.
Tuesday’s essay comes as Pyongyang refused to respond to US calls for talks.
The dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington remains at an impasse after the failure of talks between Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump in 2019.
The government of Mr. Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, has repeatedly shown its willingness to meet with North Korean envoys and aim for denuclearization.
But Pyongyang rejected the offer, accusing the United States of pursuing “hostile” policies.
North Korea is the subject of several rounds of international sanctions for its banned weapons programs.
The pressure on its already struggling economy has been heightened by the strict border closures ordered to combat the coronavirus pandemic.