North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea, extending its weapon tests in the middle of an extended freeze in nuclear dialogue with the United States. The rocket launched by Pyongyang was detected in Seoul. The South Korean military said the missile was fired days before Seoul’s presidential election.
The high frequency of Pyongyang weapon tests threatened the region and considered unacceptable, declares Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. The missile flew at a maximum altitude of 330 miles (550km) and a distance of 170 miles (300km).
Pyongyang tested a chain of weaponry and claimed that last week’s launch was a portion of a reconnaissance satellite in January. However, Seoul categorized the recent launch as a ballistic missile.
Leif-Eric Easley, Associate Professor of International Studies at Ewha University in Seoul, said:
The (Kim Jong Un) regime may be unhappy with Washington coordinating global efforts against Russian aggression in Ukraine and disappointed with Seoul’s inward focus ahead of the South Korean presidential election. But North Korea does not simply test missiles for international attention. Pyongyang’s current priorities are military modernization and domestic politics.
South Korea’s joint chief of staff confirmed that the missile fired near the North Korean capital flew 168 miles (270km) eastward at a maximum altitude of 348 miles (560km) before landing between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The U.S. and its intelligence officials are closely analyzing the launch, according to ABC News.
This launch is the ninth round of North Korea’s weapons tests in 2022. The country continues to take advantage of diplomacy to expand its military capabilities to pressure concessions with the Biden administration. The U.S. State Department claimed that the latest launch violated the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Despite the international sanctions over nuclear weapons, Pyongyang ignored requests to restart talks since the 2019 collapse of high-profile negotiations between then-President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Consequently, Pyongyang augmented Kim’s appetite to revamp its military, forewarning in January that it could relinquish a self-imposed respite on testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
The details matched the Japanese military earlier assessment and were similar to North Korea’s previous launch, also conducted from the Sunan area near Pyongyang.
The North Korean state media claims the launch was to test the camera system they plan to install on a spy satellite they are developing. On the contrary, analysts predicted that Pyongyang would fire more tests to distract the United States from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moreover, it is a reminder to the world that North Korea has its nuclear weaponry system, unlike Ukraine.
The U.S. Indo Pacific Command stated that the launch did not immediately threaten its personnel, allies, or the territory. Subsequently, it called on North Korea to withhold further destabilizing acts. The United States has discussed the launch with Japan, South Korea, and other regional partners and allies.
Seoul officials assembled for an emergency National Security Council meeting. They appealed to North Korea to refrain from actions that could increase agitation amid the international crisis created by Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.
The South Korean presidential office said that they vowed stronger cooperation with the United States to deal with the North Korean threat and closely monitor its nuclear facilities and testing.
The candidate for the ruling center-left party Lee Jae-Myung who has called for a peacebuilding method toward Pyongyang, condemned the launch but restated his allegiance to negotiations.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
NPR: North Korea fires another suspected ballistic missile into sea; by Ahn Young-Joon
ABC News: North Korea fires ballistic missile in extension of testing; by Kim Tong-Hyung and Mari Yamaguchi
AlJazeera: North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of S Korea election
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Inset Image Courtesy of Roman Harak’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License