SEOUL – North Korea on Wednesday launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast, the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months and a violation of several UN Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from carry out such tests.
Hours after the missiles were launched, South Korea announced that its president, Moon Jae-in, had just witnessed the test of the country’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile, making South Korea the seventh country in the world to operate SLBMs, after the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and India.
Missile tests by the two Koreas on the same day dramatically highlighted the intensification of the arms race on the Korean peninsula as nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and North Korea stalled. They also highlighted growing concern over regional stability, with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga calling the North Korean missile launch “outrageous” and a threat to peace.
In its announcement, South Korea revealed that it has successfully developed a supersonic cruise missile and a long-range air-to-land missile to be mounted on the KF-21, a South Korean supersonic fighter jet, and that ‘she had developed a missile ballistic system powerful enough to penetrate the underground bunkers of the war in North Korea.
The launch of the North Korean missile came a day after the United States’ special envoy urged the country to resume nuclear disarmament talks, saying the United States had no “hostile” intentions towards it. Pyongyang. Neighboring countries have also stepped up efforts to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table.
North Korea led its previous ballistic missile test in March and tested what he called newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. But the United States has not imposed new sanctions on the North for weapons testing in recent years. When North Korea resumed testing of short-range ballistic missiles in 2019, then President Donald J. Trump rejected them for their short range.
The Biden administration has said it will explore “practical” and “calibrated” diplomacy to achieve the goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has yet to respond to the administration’s invitation to dialogue.
“Rather than stepping up sanctions and military exercises, the allies have emphasized a desire for dialogue and humanitarian cooperation,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. . “The problem with less than robust responses to North Korea’s tests is that deterrence can be eroded as Pyongyang advances its capabilities and normalizes its provocations.”
North Korean missiles launched Wednesday from Yangdok in the center of the country traveled 497 miles and reached an altitude of 37 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Army said. Korean. South Korean and American defense officials were analyzing the data collected during the test to determine exactly what type of ballistic missiles were being used, he said.
Japan’s Defense Ministry issued a statement saying it “assumed” the missile had not reached the country’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone.
News of the North Korean missile test fell shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, North Korea’s biggest supporter and only major trading partner remaining, ended a meeting with his South Korean counterpart. Korean, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul.
“It is not only North Korea, but also other countries that are engaged in military activities,” Wang said when asked by reporters to comment on the North Korean cruise missile test on weekend. “We must all work together to resume the dialogue. We all hope to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Mr. Wang did not give details, but appeared to be referring to joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea last month. North Korea has accused Washington and Seoul of preparing to invade the North and generally opposes joint military exercises between the two allies with its own military exercises or weapons tests.
“The United States has no hostile intentions towards” North Korea, said Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special envoy, in Tokyo, where he met with representatives from Japan and Korea. South to discuss the arsenal of the North. He said Washington hoped North Korea “would respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.”
The latest tests have shown that North Korea continues to improve its missile arsenal despite a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply in 2017, when North Korea tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles and carried out its sixth underground nuclear test, leading to United Nations sanctions. After the tests, the country claimed the ability to target the continental United States with a nuclear warhead.
Mr Trump met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, three times between 2018 and 2019, but the leaders failed to reach an agreement on lifting sanctions or canceling the nuclear and missile programs of the North. Mr. Kim has since pledged to strengthen his country’s weapons capabilities.
With the recent tests, “North Korea is looking to increase its influence in the upcoming negotiations” with Washington, said Lee Byong-chul, a North Korean expert at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies. Kyungnam University in Seoul.
Fixing its latest test on Mr. Wang’s visit to Seoul, North Korea also appeared to “express its displeasure with Beijing” for not providing enough economic aid during the global health crisis, he said. Mr Lee said.
The North Korean economy, already hit by years of devastating international sanctions, has suffered greatly as trade with China collapsed in the coronavirus pandemic.
Motoko Rich contributed to Tokyo reporting.