Seoul, South Korea – North Korea on Saturday fired at least one alleged ballistic missile into the sea, according to its neighbors’ military, apparently extending a series of weapons tests this year amid a prolonged freeze on nuclear talks with the United States.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea said the weapon was released into the country’s eastern waters, but did not immediately say how far it had flown. Japan’s defense ministry said the weapons may have been ballistic.
It was the ninth round of arms launches to the North in 2022 as it continues to use pause in diplomacy to expand its military capabilities, trying to put pressure on the Biden administration to make concessions.
The last launch came about a week after South Korea and Japan said on Sunday they had discovered that the North had fired a ballistic missile that flew about 300 kilometers (190 miles) at a maximum altitude of about 600 kilometers (370 miles). North later said the launch was designed to test a camera system she plans to install on a spy satellite that is under development.
Other North tests this year included an alleged hypersonic missile and its first launch in 2017 with a medium-range missile potentially capable of reaching Guam, the U.S.’s major military center in the Pacific.
Analysts say North Korea may raise rates in the coming months and possibly resume tests of major weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles if it tries to shift the needle with Washington, which is now concerned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and regional competition with China.
During a conference of the ruling Labor Party convened by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month, Politburo members voiced veiled threats to resume tests of nuclear devices and ICBMs, which Kim unilaterally suspended in 2018 to free up space for the president.
But talks remain disrupted after the collapse of the second meeting between Trump and Kim in February 2019, when the Americans refused North KoreaRussia’s demands for the lifting of severe sanctions in exchange for the dismantling of an obsolete nuclear facility, which would mean a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
The Biden administration has offered open talks with Pyongyang, but has shown no willingness to offer much-needed economic benefits unless the North takes real steps to reduce its nuclear weapons and missile program.
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