SEUL – North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea on Sunday, its neighbors said, in resuming weapons testing which emerged at a time on which the United States and its allies were focusing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The rocket launch was the eighth this year. Some experts say North Korea is trying to improve its weapons technology and put pressure on the United States to offer concessions, such as easing sanctions, amid protracted disarmament talks. North Korea may also see U.S. concerns over the conflict in Ukraine as a chance to accelerate test activities without a major response from Washington.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the North Korean missile flew about 300 kilometers (190 miles) at a maximum altitude of about 600 kilometers (370 miles) before landing off the east coast of North Korea and outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. According to him, there is no damage to ships and planes.
“If North Korea deliberately launched a missile while the international community was distracted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such an act is absolutely unforgivable,” he told reporters. “Whatever the motives, North Korea’s repeated missile launches are absolutely unforgivable, and we cannot ignore significant missile and nuclear advances.”
Representatives of South Korea said they had seen the launch from the area of the northern capital, and expressed “deep concern and serious regret” about it.
During an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, high-ranking South Korean officials said that the launch time during the Russian invasion of Ukraine was “completely undesirable for peace and stability in the world and on the Korean Peninsula,” the presidential Blue House said. .
Later on Sunday, the US Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch and called on North Korea to refrain from further destabilizing actions. The statement said the U.S. commitment to defending South Korea and Japan “remains iron”, although Sunday’s launch did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. territory and its allies.
The launch came the day after North Korea made its first response to the war in Ukraine in the form of an article by a government analyst expressing support for Russia and criticism of the United States.
“The main reason for the incident in Ukraine lies in the arrogance and arbitrariness of the United States, which ignored Russia’s legitimate calls for security and sought only global hegemony and military domination, following its sanctions campaigns,” said RG Son. This was announced by a researcher at the North Korean State Institute of International Politics, published on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Ree accused Washington of “arrogance” and “double standards” because he described measures to protect his opponents as provocation or injustice.
The former Soviet Union was North Korea’s largest provider of aid before its collapse in the early 1990s. Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to restore his country’s ties with North Korea, which is seen as an attempt to regain its traditional spheres of influence and provide more allies for better engagement with the United States.
Leif-Eric Izley, a professor at Ihha University in Seoul, said the Biden administration must show that it maintains strategic attention in the Indo-Pacific region, including by responding sternly to Pyongyang’s provocations.
“North Korea is not going to do anyone any favors while the world is dealing with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Isley said. “Pyongyang has an ambitious schedule of military modernization. The power and legitimacy of the Kim regime have been tied to the testing of increasingly high-quality missiles. “
Last month, North Korea conducted seven rounds of missile tests, a record number of monthly launches since the coming to power of leader Kim Jong Un in late 2011. North Korea stopped testing after the start of the Winter Olympics in China, its last major ally and economic pipeline, earlier this month. Some experts predicted that after the Games he would resume launches and possibly test more weapons.
Kim sent a message to President Xi Jinping after the Olympics calling for further consolidation of bilateral ties “into an invincible” in the face of what he called “undisguised hostile policies and military threats to the United States and its satellite forces.”
Xi responded to Kim last week, saying China was ready to strengthen relations, North Korean state media reported.
US-led diplomacy aimed at persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for economic and political rewards collapsed in early 2019, when then-President Donald Trump rejected Kim’s calls for a broad lift of sanctions in exchange for limited steps. denuclearization during their second summit in 2019. Vietnam.
Since then, U.S. officials have repeatedly called for the resumption of talks without preconditions, but Pyongyang has said it will not return to the negotiating table unless Washington stops its hostility.
Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.