North Korea launched ballistic missile, South Korea said
Seoul: North Korea on Saturday launched a sea ballistic missile off its east coast, its second missile test in a week, South Korean defense officials said.
The South Korean military said the missile, launched at 8:48 a.m. from Sunan near the North Korean capital Pyongyang, flew 168 miles east, reaching an altitude of 34.8 miles. No further details were immediately released, but the data was similar to data collected when North Korea last conducted a missile test on Sunday.
In that earlier test, North Korea launched what the United States and South Korea called a ballistic missile from their east coast. But the North said the test was done as part of preparations to launch a military reconnaissance satellite, and its state media released aerial photos of the Korean peninsula, saying it was captured by a camera mounted on the rocket. Was.
During a Workers’ Party Congress in January last year, North Korea unveiled an unusually detailed list of weapons, which included military reconnaissance satellites. But the United Nations Security Council has banned North Korea from launching a rocket to put a satellite into orbit because the country has used such rockets to develop its long-range ballistic missiles.
North Korea conducted seven missile tests in January, more than in 2021. He avoided weapons tests for most of February, possibly out of respect for China, its neighbor and only major ally, which is hosting the Winter Olympics in Beijing. ,
But now with the Olympics, analysts expected the North to test missiles again in hopes of easing international sanctions on its nuclear weapons program, advancing its weapons technology and gaining diplomatic advantage with the United States. will start.
North Korean weapons testing resumes as the Biden administration focuses on the crisis in Ukraine, and as South Korea is in the midst of a presidential campaign. Elections are due in South Korea on Wednesday to replace President Moon Jae-in, whose five-year term ends in May.
On Saturday, Japan’s defense ministry said the North Korean missile went overboard outside its exclusive economic zone and that its ships were not damaged.
Both South Korea and Japan condemned the North Korean missile test for endangering regional stability. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile technologies.
Lee Sung-eun, a North Korea expert at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said, “Now, with all eyes on the Ukraine crisis, there is a need for North Korea to create more problems for the US and interfere in the South Korean election.” It’s an opportune time.” ,
Significance of North Korea’s Missile Tests
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North Korea was often accused of attempting military provocation to influence elections in the South. Pro. Lee recalled that in December 2012, just a week before South Korea’s presidential election, North Korea launched a rocket on the pretext of putting a satellite into orbit.
The South Korean election pits a progressive candidate, Lee Jae-myung, who calls for an inter-Korean dialogue, against Yoon Suk-yol, a conservative who takes a tough stance on North Korea.
Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute, said since the North does not want a radical right-wing leader to take power in the South, it will want to avoid a major military provocation before the election. in South Korea.
But once the election is over, weapons tests are likely to ramp up to celebrate the 110th birthday of Kim Il-sung, grandfather of North Korea’s founder and current leader Kim Jong-un, Mr. Cheong said. . Senior Kim’s birthday is April 15 for letter for bank statement.
Hikari Hida Contributed reporting from Tokyo.
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