South Korea and Japan have that North Korea has fired another ballistic missile into the sea, continuing its recent spree of testing its missile program.
South Korea’s military said that the projectile was fired from North Korea’s mountainous northern Jagang province at about 6:40 am local time (02:40 PST). The military said that the suspected missile flew towards North Korea’s eastern sea.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that his government had stepped up its vigilance and surveillance after North Korea fired “what could be a ballistic missile”.
In an emergency National Security Council meeting, South Korea condemned what Seoul called “a short-range missile launch at a time when political stability on the Korean Peninsula is very critical”.
The South Korean and US authorities are analysing what is North Korea’s third missile test this month. North Korea previously launched a “strategic” cruise missile and two railway-borne ballistic missiles despite the UN sanctions on conducting ballistic missile tests over the nuclear-armed country’s weapons program.
In the aftermath of the launch, the US State Department condemned the missile test while urging North Korea to engage in dialogue.
In a statement, the US State Department said, “This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbours and the international community. We remain committed to a diplomatic approach to the DPRK and call on them to engage in dialogue.”
North addresses UNGA
Less than an hour after the launch, North Korea’s UN envoy Kim Song told the UN General Assembly that in the light of the “hostile” policies adopted against Pyongyang, it had the “righteous right to self-defence” to develop and test its weapons.
Noting the presence of 30,000 UN troops in South Korea, Kim said “We are just building up our national defence in order to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country.”
The 3-year long Korean War was suspended in 1953 with an armistice but there has been no formal treaty to end the war, leaving the two countries technically still in a state of conflict.
The North Korean envoy said that if the US gave up its hostility, North Korea would “respond willingly at any time. But it is our judgement that there is no prospect at the present stage for the US to really withdraw its hostile policy.”
Since taking office, US President Joe Biden’s administration has expressed its willingness to hold talks with North Korea without promising a “grand bargain”.
Meanwhile, the North Korean leadership has shown an inclination toward resuming engagement with Seoul. Earlier on Saturday, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un said that North Korea was open to the idea of an inter-Korean summit on the basis of mutual “respect” and “impartiality”.
The encouraging soundbites from Pyongyang came after South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in reiterated his desire to formally end the Korean War during his address to the UN last week.
Amidst the positive developments and North’s missile testing extravaganza, South Korea has also been boosting its military arsenal.
South Korea tested its first underwater-launched missile on the same day that Pyongyang tested its railway-launched weapon. On Tuesday, the South Korean Navy announced its plans to launch its third submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles.