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North Korea launches new ballistic missile according to Japanese and South Korean sources

The US, Japan and South Korea have voiced concerns after North Korea staged its 14th major weapons test in 2022, launching a ballistic missile.

Update:
US condemns North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch
KCNAvia REUTERS

The international community has reacted to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile, the United States condemning the latest display of force by the Kim Jong Un regime but adding that the test is not of immediate concern to the administration of Joe Biden. “While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel, territory, or that of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation,” the US military said in a statement.

Biden is scheduled to visit South Korea from 20 May to 22 May to hold talks with the country’s newly-elected President, Yoon Suk-yeol. Among the topics to be discussed are the strategic alliance between the two countries, North Korea and other regional and international issues, a presidential spokesperson said.

According to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, the North carried out a ballistic missile test on Wednesday 4 May, with the South Korean military stating the weapon covered a range of about 470 km (292 miles) to a maximum altitude of 780 km (485 miles). The Japanese Coast Guard later reported the missile, which was fired from Pyongyang, fell into the sea.

South Korea’s National Security Council strongly condemned North Korea’s latest test, which comes amid a flurry of weapons tests this year - Pyongyang has unveiled hypersonic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – and urged its neighbour to promptly return to dialogue, the presidential office said. Wednesday’s launch was the North’s 14th major weapons test this year.

Kim Jong Un steps up missile program amid stalled talks with US

On 25 April, during a military parade to showcase the North’s military might, Kim Jong Un called on the country’s military to “bolster up their strength in every way to annihilate the enemy”, according to state media releases. Meanwhile, satellite imagery showed increased preparations for a possible nuclear test at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, which was used for underground nuclear blasts before it was closed in 2018 amid denuclearization talks with Washington and Seoul. Those talks have now stalled, with North Korea

The parade in Pyongyang featured several of the North’s latest missiles, including its largest ICBM, the Hwasong-17, and a recently tested hypersonic missile. North Korea resumed testing its ICBMs in March and staged the successful launch of a Hwasong-17, a missile described by analysts as a “monster,” on 25 March. According to analysts, there are signs Kim Jong Un could soon test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017. The Hwasong-17′s predecessor, the Hwasong-15, had a potential range of 13,000km (8,077 miles).

Liu Xiaoming, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs, visited Seoul for talks with his South Korean counterpart, nuclear envoy Noh Kyu-duk, on Tuesday amid concern in Beijing over rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “We call on all parties to stay cool-headed and exercise restraint, and we disapprove (of) actions by any party that could escalate tension,” Liu said on social media.

US calls for further UN sanctions on North Korea

Meanwhile, the US has called on the UN Security Council to vote during May to further sanction North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Tuesday.

The United States circulated an initial draft resolution to the 15-member council last month that proposed banning tobacco and halving oil exports to North Korea and blacklisting the Lazarus hacking group.

However, Russia and China have already signalled opposition to boosting sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s March launch of an ICBM. A Security Council resolution needs nine “yes” votes to pass, without a veto by Russia, China, France, Britain or the United States.

“It is our plan to move forward with that resolution during this month,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters when asked if she would put it to a vote. The United States is president of the Security Council for May. “We’re very concerned about the situation,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the UN Security Council has steadily stepped up over the years in a bid to cut off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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