North Korea launches possible ballistic missile

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - SEOUL — North Korea on Friday test-fired at least one unidentified projectile toward the country's east, CNN reported quoting South Korean and Japanese sources.

It is unclear how many projectiles were fired.

It was the third weapons launch this month by North Korea, in an apparent reprisal for fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration for its continuing test launches.

On Tuesday North Korea said it successfully test-fired a hypersonic missile, the third alleged test of such a weapon by the Kim Jong Un regime.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapon was fired toward the east but did not immediately say where it landed or provided other details.

"A possible ballistic missile was launched from North Korea. We will inform you as soon as a follow-up report is available," Japan's government tweeted on Friday.

Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry also said they detected the North Korean launch and said it was possibly a ballistic missile.

The Japanese coast guard issued a safety advisory, saying an object had possibly landed already. It urged vessels between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, as well as the East China Sea and the North Pacific, to “pay attention to further information and to keep clear when recognizing falling object,” the Associated Press reported.

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five North Koreans over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the North’s missile programs in its response to the North’s missile test this week. It also said it would seek new UN sanctions.

The announcement by the Treasury Department came just hours after North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday that he claimed would greatly increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrent.”

Tuesday’s test was North Korea’s second demonstration of its purported hypersonic missile in a week. The country in recent months has been ramping up tests of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles designed to overwhelm missile defense systems in the region, as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a freeze in diplomacy with the United States.

In a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesperson defended the North’s launches of purported hypersonic missiles as a righteous exercise of self-defense.

The spokesperson said the new sanctions underscore hostile US intent aimed at “isolating and stifling” the North despite Washington’s repeated calls for Pyongyang to resume diplomacy that has stalled over disagreements about sanctions relief and nuclear disarmament steps.

The spokesperson accused the United States of maintaining a “gangster-like” stance, saying that the North’s development of the new missile is part of its efforts to modernize its military and does not target any specific country or threaten the security of its neighbors.

“Nevertheless, the US is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK’s just activity to the UN Security Council,” the spokesperson said, using an abbreviation of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“This shows that though the present US administration is trumpeting about diplomacy and dialogue, it is still engrossed in its policy for isolating and stifling the DPRK ... If the US adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it,” the spokesperson said.

Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose a crucial challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability.

Such weapons were on a wish list of sophisticated military assets Kim unveiled early last year along with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, solid-fuel long-range missiles and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.

In an interview with MSNBC, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the North’s latest tests “profoundly destabilizing” and said the United States was deeply engaged at the UN and with key partners, including allies South Korea and Japan, on a response. — Agencies


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