Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) – North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea on Monday in its fourth weapons launch this month, South Korea’s military said, amid stalled diplomacy with the United States and its military. With the clear goal of demonstrating power. border closed.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea may have fired two short-range ballistic missiles from an area of Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport. The missiles were launched four minutes apart and flew about 380 kilometers (236 mi) with a maximum altitude of 42 kilometers (26 mi) before landing in waters off the country’s northeast coast.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said the missiles did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or the region or its allies, but highlighted the destabilizing effect of North Korea’s “illegal” weapons program. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missiles landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno condemned the action as a threat to peace.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is visiting the United Arab Emirates, instructed officials to make “extreme efforts to ensure stability” in the Korean peninsula, his office said. It also said that members of the President’s National Security Council stressed the need to revive nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.
US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim called his counterparts in Japan and South Korea to discuss the launch and urged the North to engage in dialogue. The US State Department said the three officials resolved to continue their close coordination.
North Korea flight-tested an alleged hypersonic missile on January 5 and 11 and also test-fired ballistic missiles from a train on Friday, in an apparent nod to new sanctions imposed by the Biden administration last week for its continued test launches. was in retaliation.
North Korea has been ramping up testing in recent months of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles designed to fly and fly at low altitudes, potentially improving the chances of evading missile defense in the region. We do.
Some experts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is going back on a tried-and-true strategy to pressure his neighbors and the US with missile launches and threats before offering talks to make concessions.
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 demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
Kim has since promised to further expand a nuclear arsenal that he clearly sees as the strongest guarantee of his survival.
His government has so far rejected calls from the Biden administration to resume talks without any preconditions, saying Washington should first abandon its “hostile policy”, a word North Korea chief said. Used to describe sanctions and joint US-South Korea military exercises.
Seoul University of North Korean Studies professor Kim Dong-yub said North Korea may have made another launch to put pressure on Washington and its trial after cracking down on what it perceives as US hostility. Can continue dialing activity.
Last week, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on five North Koreans over their role in obtaining equipment and technology for North Korea’s missile programs, in response to North Korea’s earlier tests this month.
The State Department ordered sanctions against another North Korean, a Russian man and a Russian company for their widespread support of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction activities. The Biden administration also said it would adhere to additional UN sanctions on North’s continued tests.
Announcing the sanctions North Korea’s state media said Kim Jong Un oversaw the successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, the country’s second test of the alleged system in a week, and claimed the weapon greatly crippled the country’s capability. will increase. “War Deterrent.”
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles from a train last Friday in apparent retaliation for new US sanctions linked to hypersonic tests. Friday’s test came hours after North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement slamming the Biden administration over the new sanctions and warned of a “strong and definite response” if Washington maintains its confrontational stance.
Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo and Matthew Lee in Washington, DC contributed to this report.