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North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Towards East Sea

North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests, including the launch of a long range missile with the potential to reach anywhere on the US mainland. The regime’s first round of missile tests in about a month and has ignited a fresh wave of tensions in the region.

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Towards East Sea

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The missile, believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), flew approximately 1,000km and reached a maximum altitude of over 6,000km before landing in the sea east of the Korean peninsula.

Japan, one of North Korea’s closest neighbors, says as the missile’s range suggested it could have a reach of over 15,000km, putting the entire US territory within its trajectory.

Shingo Miyake, Japan’s parliamentary vice-minister of defense, expressed concerns about the missile’s capabilities, addressing the need to confirm its classification as an ICBM.

The missile landing in the sea without causing damage to aircraft or ships, the act drew strong condemnation from Japan, which lodged a protest and called a meeting of its national security council.

The launches coincide with tensions in the region, driven by joint efforts between the United States and South Korea to bolster their nuclear deterrence plans in response to growing nuclear threat.

Senior US and South Korean officials met in Washington over the weekend and agreed to update their nuclear deterrence and contingency strategies, incorporating nuclear operation scenarios into their combined military exercises scheduled for next summer.

The missile launches by North Korea are interpreted as a protest against these joint efforts by the US and South Korea.

The military drills, including the temporary deployment of strategic US assets near South Korea, has been met with fiery rhetoric from North Korea.

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The regime, led by Kim Jong-un, has also sought closer ties with Russia and China, forming a counter-alliance against the US and its allies.

The United States and its allies, has condemned missile launches. A US State Department spokesperson addressed that these launches violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The spokesperson reiterated the need for North Korea to comply with international norms and cease its ballistic missile activities.

The regime has conducted several tests of ICBMs, theoretically capable of reaching targets anywhere in the US.

However, there are doubts among experts about the regime’s ability to perfect the technology required for long-range missile flights carrying multiple nuclear warheads.

The missile launch on Monday follows test-firing of a shorter-range missile on Sunday night, a deliberate escalation in its military activities.

The regime’s defense ministry criticized the decision by Seoul and Washington to include nuclear operation scenarios in their joint military drills.

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The dynamics between North and South Korea have further soured following launch of its first military reconnaissance satellite into space on November 21, violating UN bans.

This strong condemnation from South Korea, the US, and Japan, viewing it as an attempt by North Korea to its missile technology and establish a space-based surveillance system.

South Korea announced plans to resume frontline aerial surveillance. This decision was met with retaliation from North Korea, which restored border guard posts, breaching a 2018 inter-Korean deal aimed at easing frontline military tensions.

The timing of missile tests is particularly as it comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between North Korea and China.

Reports of a meeting between China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, and North Korea’s vice-minister of foreign affairs, Pak Myong-ho, suggest a diplomatic engagement between the two nations.

Wang addressed the traditional friendship between China and North Korea. The missile launch is believed to involve the Hwasong-18, a solid-fueled ICBM that North Korea has been developing.

Solid-fueled missiles are considered more advanced, allowing for quicker launch preparations and easier concealment.

Observers note that if this is the third successful flight test of the Hwasong-18, it is a growing reliability in North Korea’s missile program.

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