North Korea fires two ballistic missiles off its east coast


North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, as Pyongyang returns to weapons testing after saying its patience to talk has run out. blunt.

The provocation of the Kim Jong Un regime drew immediate recriminations from the United States and Japan, while South Korea strengthened its defensive position. North Korea’s ballistic missile test violates United Nations Security Council resolutions. But the isolated regime has long ignored these orders.

Kim’s regime has blocked outreach to the Biden administration and South Korean officials this year. Pyongyang was seething with recent combined military exercises between the United States and South Korea. Kim Yo Jong, the dictator’s sister, said last month that peace and security on the Korean Peninsula can only come from a substantial deterrent, not from words.

The short-range missiles, launched from a central region of North Korea, were fired shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. They traveled about 500 miles at an altitude of about 37 miles, before dumping into the waters between Korea and Japan, according to Seoul’s military.

“It is a scandal which threatens the peace and security of our country and our region,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said shortly after the test.

The missile technology being tested by North Korea does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or its allies, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has said. But the launch shows how North Korea’s “illicit weapons program” is having a destabilizing impact, he said.

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The United States and North Korea have not sat down for formal talks for almost two years. By giving the Biden administration a cold shoulder, North Korea is hoping the guns will test the stake, or even gain the upper hand, whenever negotiations resume with what Pyongyang perceives to be an over-enthusiastic Washington, Cheon Seong said. -whun, a former South Korean. responsible for national security.

“They are trying to increase the need for the United States to resume talks,” Mr. Cheon said.

North Korea has kept a relatively low profile since the start of the pandemic. Prior to Wednesday, it had conducted a single ballistic missile test this year, March 25.

Kim’s diet had seemed plagued by domestic issues, including a struggling economy, fears of Covid-19 and potential food shortages. Last week, the North staged a low-key military parade that showed no major weapons. The event appeared to be focused more on boosting morale among North Koreans than sending a message to the outside world, security analysts said.

But then, in a report released by state media on Monday, North Korea said it had successfully tested new long-range cruise missiles that were a “strategic weapon of great importance.”

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Weapons testing is one of Pyongyang’s methods of stepping up pressure on Washington. But Kim’s regime has not achieved a major escalation, such as a nuclear test or the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, in nearly four years.

After the 2019 Vietnamese summit between Mr Kim and Donald Trump ended without a deal, the North carried out more than 20 shorter-range weapon launches, including Wednesday’s test. These missiles are not designed to reach the Americas, although they pose serious threats to neighboring Japan and South Korea.

“With provocations, North Korea is paradoxically accelerating calls for dialogue from the international community,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean studies at South Korean Dongguk University.

Hours after North Korea’s recent launch, South Korea successfully conducted its own submarine-launched ballistic missile test. Such weapons technology, the South Korean presidential office said, helps provide deterrence and should play a leading role in self-sustaining national defense.

The ballistic missile fire from the two Koreas coincided with a visit to Seoul by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who met with his counterpart. Asked about the North Korean cruise missile test over the weekend, Wang downplayed its importance and suggested countries make efforts to resume dialogue with North Korea.

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“Other countries are also carrying out military activities, not just North Korea,” Wang said.

Last month, the UN atomic agency said Pyongyang appeared to have resumed operation of its plutonium production reactor at its Yongbyon facility, calling it “deeply troubling.”

On Tuesday, US nuclear envoy Sung Kim met in Tokyo with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, discussing humanitarian aid to North Korea. Washington is ready to discuss aid regardless of the progress of denuclearization, said Kim, who reiterated that the United States has no hostile intentions towards North Korea.

With Chinese Foreign Minister in town, officials in Seoul should push Beijing to provide greater transparency on China’s role in North Korea’s nuclear issue, said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University. from Seoul.

“China’s economic aid, diplomatic support, and tolerance for sanctions evasion make it the main catalyst for the Kim regime,” said Professor Easley. “Yet Wang Yi acts as if North Korea’s missile testing and the resumption of nuclear activity in Yongbyon is someone else’s problem. . “

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