Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2022|
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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Monday fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons launch this month, South Korea’s military said, with the apparent goal of demonstrating its military might amid paused diplomacy with the United States and pandemic border closures.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North likely fired two ballistic missiles from an area in Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport, but didn’t immediately say how far they flew.
Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office also said it detected a possible ballistic missile launch from North Korea, but didn’t immediately provide more details.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed his government to do its utmost to gather information about the launch and ensure the safety of vessels and aircraft. Japan’s Coast Guard issued a warning for vessels traveling around Japanese waters to watch out for falling objects, but no immediate damage was reported. The Coast Guard later said that the North Korean projectile is believed to have already landed but didn’t specify where.
The launch came after the North conducted a pair of flight tests of a purported hypersonic missile on Jan. 5 and Jan. 11 and also test-fired ballistic missiles from a train Friday in an apparent reprisal over fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration last week for its continuing test launches.
North Korea has been ramping up tests in recent months of new missiles designed to overwhelm missile defenses in the region.
Some experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going back to a tried-and-true technique of pressuring the U.S. and regional neighbors with missile launches and outrageous threats before offering negotiations meant to extract concessions.
A U.S.-led diplomatic push aimed at convincing North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program collapsed in 2019 after the Trump administration rejected the North’s demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim has since pledged to further expand a nuclear arsenal he clearly sees as his strongest guarantee of survival, despite the country’s economy suffering major setbacks amid pandemic-related border closures and persistent U.S.-led sanctions.
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