North Korea launched its most powerful missile on Sunday on Sunday, saying South Korea was worried that Pyongyang might soon follow suit with a threat to resume nuclear or intercontinental ballistic missile testing.
This is the seventh weapons test conducted by Pyongyang since the beginning of this year.
North Korea has never tested so many missiles in a calendar month before. The last major series of shootings took place before 2019, following the failure of talks between its leader Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump (2017-2021).
“Assessment of the Hwasong-12 intermediate and long-range surface-to-air ballistic missile was carried out on Sunday, which confirmed the precision, safety and efficiency of the device,” the North Korean state news agency KCNA reported Monday.
South Korean allied leaders said Sunday morning that they had discovered an “intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from a high angle.” If it is a high angle shot then the missile will not reach its maximum range.
KCNA said on Monday that the test was carried out using a “high-angle launching system” for the safety of neighboring countries, and that the missile’s warship had a camera.
As for South Korea, North Korea is following a “similar path” as in 2017, when tensions peaked on the Korean Peninsula.
Pyongyang’s nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile test is “close to breaking its self-imposed ban,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement.
The missile was launched from the northern province of Jahang, from where North Korea has been launching what it claims to be hypersonic missiles in recent months.
It reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 km, traveled about 800 km in 30 minutes and crashed into the Sea of Japan, South Korean civil servants said.
Pyongyang had previously tested the Hwaseong-12 missile in 2017, which traveled 787 km and reached a maximum altitude of 2,111 km.
At the time, researchers estimated that the missile had a range of 4,500 km and could reach the US island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean.
The North Korean regime threatened to resume its nuclear or missile tests on January 20, saying it was forced to do so by US “hostile” policy.
Pyongyang has rejected various dialogue proposals made by Washington since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021. In December, Kim Jong Un reaffirmed that his priority was to modernize the country’s arsenal.
On Friday, the North Korean company KCNA Mr. Kim released pictures of her visit to the Arms Factory. In one of these photos, we see him wearing a black leather coat with a regular belt and surrounded by uniformed officers, some of whom have pale faces.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said Sunday’s hearing was a “clear violation” of UN resolutions.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, condemned the “provocative” launch on the US channel ABC and said the US was “completely open to a diplomatic meeting without preconditions”.
According to Xu Kim, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, an American think tank, North Korea has auctioned off its time and is now “gradually accelerating” its weapons tests.
“Kim controlled her appetite for experimentation and provocation,” he explains. “Now is the time, and repeated missile strikes add another problem to the already enormous list of international challenges for Washington.”
These North Korean tests come at a subtle time for the region: China, the only major ally of the North Korean regime, is hosting the Winter Olympics in February and South Korea is holding presidential elections in March.
Pyongyang is preparing to celebrate the 80th birthday of Kim Jong Il, Kim’s father, in February, followed by his grandfather Kim Il Sung’s 110th birthday in April.
The rise of the tests comes at a time when international sanctions and nearly two-year border closures have brought the North Korean economy to its knees in the name of fighting the COVID-19.
“The Kim regime is listening to what is being said outside about its internal weakness,” said Leaf Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “So he wants to remind Washington and Seoul that any attempt to oust him would be too costly.”