North Korea fired an “unidentified projectile” into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, on Sunday, according to the South Korean military, carrying out its seventh weapons test since the beginning of the month. According to Seoul, the country has launched its most powerful missile since 2017.
The last time North Korea conducted so many tests was in 2019, after negotiations between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump broke down.
Since then, the talks between the two countries have been deadlocked and the North Korean economy is bent under the blow of international sanctions and the closure of the borders that the country has imposed on itself to protect itself from Covid-19.
Modernize the arsenal
Since the beginning of the year, Pyongyang has embarked on a new series of tests, including of hypersonic missiles, which follows a speech by leader Kim Jong Un in December, reaffirming its commitment to the modernization of the army.
Pyongyang has already conducted two tests this week and conducted at least four more this month, saying it launched hypersonic missiles on January 5 and 11, among others.
On Friday, the North Korean agency KCNA published images of Kim Jong Un visiting an arms factory. In one of these photos, we see him beaming, wearing his usual long black leather jacket with a belt, surrounded by uniformed officials, whose faces are blurred.
The latest tests prompted international condemnation and a closed meeting of the United Nations Security Council. In retaliation, Washington also imposed new sanctions, angering North Korea, which hinted last week that it could resume nuclear and long-range weapons testing because of the ‘hostile’ policy. the United States.
Pyongyang has not tested intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017, and continued to observe a moratorium even after dialogue with the United States stalled. These North Korean trials come at a delicate time for the region: China, the only major ally of the North Korean regime, is hosting the Winter Olympics in February and South Korea is holding a presidential election in March.
Pyongyang is preparing to celebrate the 80th birthday of Kim’s father, the late Kim Jong Il, in February and then the 110th birthday of his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding leader, in April.