South Korean authorities stated that North Korea fired a ballistic missile near its east coast on Wednesday, just days before the inauguration of a new South Korean president. North Korea denied the allegations.
In a statement, the South Korean military claimed the missile launched from Sunan, a town near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, at 12:03 p.m. and travelled 292 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan, which separates North Korea and Japan. The rocket soared to a height of 485 miles above the ground. The military did not disclose any more information on the kind of missile that was fired.
Over the course of this year, North Korea has conducted more than a dozen missile launches, which is an extraordinarily high number given the country’s history. Because of the high frequency, it is likely that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is attempting to enhance his missile and nuclear capabilities, as well as acquire diplomatic leverage in the process.
Negotiations with the United States have been deadlocked for years. Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea’s president-elect, is likely to adopt a more hardline attitude toward the North on his first day in office on Tuesday.
While campaigning, Mr. Yoon urged for a stronger implementation of sanctions against North Korea, which was met with resistance. His meeting with President Biden is scheduled for May 21 in Seoul, when the two leaders will discuss how to deal with Mr. Kim’s rising military threat.
State media said that Mr. Kim had overseen the launch of a “new-type tactical guided weapon” during North Korea’s most recent missile test on April 16, which was intended to boost the country’s “efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes.”
Mr. Kim made the promise to enhance his nuclear weapons “at the quickest feasible pace” at a military parade held at night earlier this month. His nuclear policy also seemed to be becoming more aggressive, with the president announcing that his nuclear weapons were not just a “war deterrent,” but that they could also be utilised “if any forces attempt to undermine the basic interests of our country.”
He has pledged to intensify his nuclear and missile development programmes as his dialogue with President Donald J. Trump ended in failure without a breakthrough in 2019. Meanwhile, Kim continued testing of a number of new missiles, including several short-range solid-fuel ballistic missiles, which analysts believe are intended to carry conventional and nuclear bombs to South Korea and Japan, in addition to U.S. military posts in the area.
It was North Korea’s first long-range ballistic missile test since 2017, and it was conducted in March when it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.
In light of Mr. Kim’s efforts to inflame tensions with Mr. Yoon’s incoming government, analysts predict that more similar tests will be conducted in the future.