North Korea fired an “unidentified projectile” on Sunday, the military of the South said, marking the seventh weapons test this month in one of the most intense wave of launches ever, as the regime flexes its military muscles as it rejects US offers for talks. ignores.
The last time North Korea tested so many weapons in a month was in 2019, after high-profile negotiations between leader Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump failed.
Since then, talks with the US have stalled and the country is reeling economically from the bite of international sanctions and a self-imposed coronavirus lockdown.
“North Korea fired an unidentified projectile toward the Baltic Sea (Sea of Japan),” Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.
The Japanese coast guard, meanwhile, said it had detected a launch of a “possible ballistic missile”.
This year, Pyongyang has embarked on another wave of sanctions-breaking tests, including hypersonic missiles, after Kim reaffirmed his commitment to military modernization during a key party speech in December.
Pyongyang conducted two weapons tests last week and has conducted at least four additional tests this month, including what it called hypersonic missiles on January 5 and 11.
On Friday, state media released photos showing Kim wearing his usual long leather jacket with a black belt, surrounded by uniformed officials — their faces grained — as they inspect a munitions factory that produces “an important weapons system.”
The North has not tested intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017, causing launches to be suspended as Kim embarked on a blitz of high-level diplomacy through three meetings with then-US President Donald Trump and other top leaders.
But this month, the regime hinted it could resume such launches, blaming US “hostile” politics for forcing its hand.
The series of launches in 2022 comes at a delicate time in the region, with Kim’s only major ally China set to host the Winter Olympics next month and South Korea gearing up for presidential elections in March.
Domestically, North Korea is preparing to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the birth of late leader Kim Jong Il in February, as well as the 110th birthday of founder Kim Il Sung in April.
With reports of rising food prices and rising hunger, economically shaky Pyongyang recently resumed cross-border trade with neighboring China.
And ally Beijing, along with Russia, this month blocked the UN Security Council from imposing new sanctions in response to the recent tests.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)