North Korea Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile into Sea

( Over the weekend, North Korea fired what was believed to be a ballistic missile into the sea, according to South Korea and Japan.

On Saturday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff detected a single launch of a suspected ballistic missile from an area outside of Pyongyang toward the country’s eastern waters. Japan’s Defense Ministry confirmed the launch of what it assessed to be a ballistic missile.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missile likely landed outside the country’s economic zone and there were no reports of any damages to vessels. Initial assessments suggest the missile flew approximately 180 miles eastward at a maximum altitude of 340 miles before landing in the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

This marks the ninth time North Korea has test-fired weapons in this year alone as it continues to expand its military capabilities while pressuring the Biden administration for concessions.

The Sunday before, South Korea and Japan both reported the launch of a ballistic missile that flew about 190 miles at a maximum altitude of 370 miles. North Korea later said the launch was intended to test a camera system it plans to install on a spy satellite currently under development.

Also this year, North Korea tested what it claimed was a hypersonic missile. And for the first time since 2017, Pyongyang also launched an intermediate-range missile capable of reaching Guam.

Some analysts warn that in the coming months North Korea could possibly resume its testing of major weapons like intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) as a way to up the ante to gain concessions from Washington, especially now that Washington is preoccupied with Russia and Ukraine.

In a February Workers Party conference called by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Politburo members made a veiled threat to resume the testing of nuclear devices and ICBMs, which Kim unilaterally suspended in 2018 during negotiations with then-President Donald Trump.

Those diplomatic efforts collapsed after Trump and Kim’s February 2019 meeting when the US rejected Pyongyang’s demands for sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility.

The Biden administration has been trying to restart diplomatic talks with Pyongyang but has refused to offer much-needed sanctions relief unless North Korea takes real steps to cut down its nuclear and missile program.