North Korea has launched what appears to be another ballistic missile, Japan’s coast guard reported on Friday, Pyongyang’s third missile launch of the new year.
The South Korean military also confirmed the launch, saying that only a North Korean projectile was launched eastward. No further details were available.
North Korea has already made three launches this year, all within the past 10 days – reminiscent of 2017, when US-North Korea relations were at a low point.
The last two tests involved what North Korea claims are hypersonic missiles. Although defense analysts say North Korea may exaggerate its capabilities in the region, detecting and deterring such weapons is more difficult for US missile defense.
The United States this week condemned the North Korean launches more strongly than usual. It also unilaterally imposed sanctions on five North Koreans who were allegedly helping procure supplies for Pyongyang’s weapons program.
In an interview on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the North Korean tests “severely destabilizing” and meant to “draw attention”.
“It has been done in the past, it will probably continue to do so. But we are very focused with allies and partners to make sure that they and we are properly defending and responding to these actions by North Korea. Results are results,” Blinken told US cable news network MSNBC.
Earlier on Friday, ahead of its latest launch, North Korea’s foreign ministry hit out at Washington, accusing the US of “deliberately aggravating the situation” with unilateral sanctions.
“If the US takes such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to respond with a strong and definite response,” a foreign ministry spokesman said, according to state media, which carries the official name of North Korea, the Democratic People’s. Republic of Korea.
Under President Joe Biden, the United States has repeatedly offered to hold nuclear talks “anywhere, anytime” with North Korea. North Korea has ignored or rejected the proposals, saying Washington should first offer more concessions and abandon what it calls a “hostile policy”.
North Korea withdrew from talks with the United States in 2019 after the two sides could not agree on a deal to ease US sanctions in exchange for moves by North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.