North Korea has been detected firing a suspected ballistic missile into the sea, the first such launch in around two months.
Picked up by South Korea and Japan’s militaries, the move further emphasises Pyongyang‘s disinterest in rejoining denuclearisation talks anytime soon – instead preferring to focus on boosting its weapon arsenal.
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed at a high-level party conference to further boost his military capability with powerful, modern weapons.
Following Wednesday’s launch, a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea had fired a suspected ballistic missile toward its eastern waters.
It added that South Korean and US intelligence authorities were trying to analyse more information about the launch.
Members of South Korea’s presidential national security team also raised concerns in an emergency video conference and said resuming talks with Pyongyang would be important to resolve tensions, according to the presidential Blue House.
The Japanese Defence Ministry also detected the North Korean launch and said it believed the country probably fired a missile.
“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
North Korea performed a series of weapons tests between September and November, in what experts say is an attempt to put more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power state in the hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions.
The weapons tested last year included a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a developmental hypersonic missile.
Until Wednesday’s launch, North Korea had halted testing activities since its artillery firing drills in early November.
The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions, but the country has so far rejected the idea and says US hostility remains unchanged.