North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday into the waters to its east, according to the South Korean armed forces and the Japanese coast guard. This is the second missile launch that the Kim Jong-un regime has completed in the past four days, after testing a long-range cruise missile this weekend.
According to the South Korean General Staff, the projectiles traveled about 800 kilometers and reached a maximum height of 60 kilometers during their flight before falling into the waters east of the Korean peninsula. The Japanese coast guards have specified that the missiles fell into the sea outside the Japanese exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Seoul has called a meeting of its National Security Council to analyze the North Korean action, which Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has described as “scandalous” and “a threat to peace and security.”
In a statement, the Indo-Pacific command of the US armed forces has indicated that the test “does not represent an immediate threat” against the United States or its allies, although it does “highlight the destabilizing impact of the illicit weapons program” of North Korea.
This Wednesday’s test occurred precisely when the Foreign Minister of China – North Korea’s main ally country – Wang Yi, is in Seoul to discuss with the South Korean authorities about Pyongyang’s military program , among other matters. At the end of his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Wang has appealed to all parties involved to act calmly and to return to the table of talks, parked for two years.
Precisely this Wednesday, South Korea successfully fired a ballistic missile from a submarine, the South Korean presidency indicated, according to AFP, making it the seventh country in the world to possess this advanced technology. The missile was fired from the new submarine Ahn Chang-ho and traveled the expected distance until hitting the target.
North Korea and the United States opened talks in 2018 to denuclearize the peninsula, in which then-US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un held three summits in less than a year. The meetings did not yield concrete results, beyond a vague statement in the first, in June 2018 in Singapore, and were a resounding failure in the second, in Hanoi in February 2019. Since then, and despite the change in the House Blanca, now occupied by Democrat Joe Biden, there have been hardly any contacts between the two parties. But in the meantime, Pyongyang has pressed ahead with the development of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program, the subject of tensions between the two capitals.
Last January, Kim appealed to his armed forces to continue the modernization of the weapons program, and called for the development, among other equipment, of ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as hypersonic weapons.
The cruise missile test last weekend, which the North Korean regime called an “effective deterrent,” is an indication that while talks with the United States have been disrupted, North Korea has forged ahead with development. of its weapons program. That projectile, according to experts, can carry miniaturized nuclear warheads, but is not included in the list of tests sanctioned by the international community. In addition, in August, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that it had detected indications that the North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, emblematic of that country’s atomic program, had resumed plutonium production activity, after standing idle since end of 2018.
The launch of this Wednesday, according to the South Korean Board of General Staff, is the fifth known of North Korean projectiles so far this year, although for the moment Pyngyang respects the moratorium on long-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles which he declared before beginning negotiations with the United States.
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