North Korea fired two new ballistic missiles on Friday, according to the South Korean military, in Pyongyang’s third weapons test since the start of 2022 despite new US sanctions. These launches come after Washington’s decision to impose new financial sanctions against five North Korean nationals, following previous missile tests, presented as hypersonic.
“Right to self-defense”
After this announcement, Pyongyang promised Friday never to give up its “right to self-defense”. Friday’s projectiles, short-range ballistic missiles, were launched toward the eastern Korean peninsula, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The launches took place at 2:41 p.m. and 2:52 p.m. (0541 and 0552 GMT) and the missiles traveled a distance of 432 km at an altitude of 36 km, they said. The South Korean Security Council “deeply regretted” this test which, it lamented, “does not contribute to stability on the Korean Peninsula at this critical time”.
In Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the projectiles fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. These repeated tests prove that Pyongyang is “seeking to improve its launch technologies”, he said. Despite international sanctions for its banned weapons programs, Pyongyang has already fired two missiles, presented as hypersonic, since the beginning of the year. A first on January 5 and a second, personally supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, on January 11.
High tensions between Pyongyang and Washington
Following the sanctions announced on Wednesday by Washington and which “target North Korea’s persistent use of representatives abroad to illegally procure goods for the manufacture of weapons”, Pyongyang accused the United States of “intentionally” escalate the situation.
If “the United States adopts such a confrontational attitude, the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) will be forced to react in a stronger and more certain way,” said the spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry, according to the official KCNA news agency.
North Korea has a “legitimate right” to develop new weapons as part of its drive to “modernize its national defense capability”, he added.
Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies, said the timing of the alleged new trial is worrying. “North Korea conducted this test right after issuing a statement saying it would not give up its right to self-defense,” Yang told AFP.
“With this essay, they show that they really mean what they say in the statement. The message is very clear. North Korea is not going to let go of anything regarding its armament, despite the new sanctions imposed.” The new trial “was done in a hurry to show the United States that it will be an eye for an eye tooth for tooth after the sanctions,” said Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for Korea Studies. Nors at the Sejong Institute.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on North Korea to negotiate with the United States, which he said harbors no “hostile intent” towards Kim Jong Un’s regime. testing is “deeply destabilizing, dangerous and contrary to a whole host of UN Security Council resolutions,” Blinken said in a televised interview.
The dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington remains at an impasse after the failure in 2019 of talks between Kim Jong Un and then US President Donald Trump. The government of current President Joe Biden has repeatedly shown its willingness to meet with North Korean envoys, but Pyongyang rejected the offer, accusing the United States of following a “hostile” policy.