Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) — North Korea fired at least one possible ballistic missile on Friday in its third weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea and Japan said, following new measures imposed by the Biden administration to continue its The trial launched in an apparent retaliation for the sanctions.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapon was fired east, but did not immediately say where it landed or provide other details.
Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office and Defense Ministry also said they traced the North Korean launch and said it was likely a ballistic missile.
The Japanese Coast Guard issued a safety advisory saying an object may have already landed. It urged ships along the Korean Peninsula and Japan, as well as between the East China Sea and the North Pacific, to “pay attention to further information and be clear when identifying a falling object.”
The Biden administration on Wednesday banned five North Koreans over their role in obtaining equipment and technology for North Korea’s missile programs in response to North Korea’s missile tests. It also said it would seek new UN sanctions.
The announcement by the Treasury Department came hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, which he claimed would significantly increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrence”.
Tuesday’s test was North Korea’s second display of its alleged hypersonic missile in a week. In recent months the country has been accelerating testing of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles designed to eliminate missile defense systems in the region, as it builds on its military capabilities amid a freeze in diplomacy with the United States. continues to expand.
In a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman defended the alleged launch of hypersonic missiles by North Korea as an appropriate exercise of self-defense.
The spokesman said the new sanctions underscore the hostile US intent aimed at “isolating and suppressing” the North, while Washington has made repeated calls to Pyongyang to resume diplomacy, which seeks sanctions relief. And disagreements about nuclear disarmament steps have stalled.
The spokesman accused the United States of maintaining a “gangster-like” stance, saying the North’s development of the new missile is part of its military’s modernization efforts and does not target any specific country or threaten the security of its neighbors. There is no danger.
The spokesman, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic, said, “Nevertheless, the US is deliberately aggravating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, referring to the DPRK’s appropriate activity in the United Nations Security Council.” Not satisfied with doing it.” of Korea.
“This shows that although the current US administration is trumpeting about diplomacy and dialogue, it is still engrossed in its policy of isolating and suppressing the DPRK… .
Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds greater than Mach 5 or more than five times the speed of sound, can pose a significant challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability.
Such weapons were on the wish-list of sophisticated military assets that Kim unveiled early last year with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, solid-fuel long-range missiles and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
Still, experts say North Korea will need years and more successful and long-range tests before it can achieve a reliable hypersonic system.
The Biden administration, whose policies have reflected a sweeping shift from America’s terrorism and so-called rogue states such as North Korea and Iran to confronting China, has said it will hold talks with North Korea at any time without any preconditions. ready to start again.
But North Korea has so far rejected the idea of open-ended talks, saying the US should first withdraw its “hostile policy”, a term Pyongyang has used primarily of sanctions and joint US-South Korea military exercises. uses to describe.
In an interview with MSNBC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the North’s latest tests “profoundly destabilizing” and said the United States engaged deeply on the response with key partners at the United Nations and including allies South Korea and Japan. happened.
“I think some of this is what North Korea is trying to get attention. It has been done in the past. It will probably continue to do so,” Blinken said. “But we are very focused with allies and partners to make sure that they and we are defending properly and that these actions by North Korea have consequences.”
A US-led diplomatic push aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program 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 Jong Un has since pledged to further expand a nuclear arsenal, which he clearly sees as the strongest guarantee of its survival, given the country’s economy being hit by pandemic-related border closures and relentless US-led Despite major setbacks amid the sanctions.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.