The UN sanctions on Pyongyang do not prohibit North Korea from launching cruise missiles.
Two ballistic missiles are fired by North Korea
South Korea’s military said North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons test this month, as Pyongyang continued a wave of missile launches that have prompted UN criticism.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea stated on Monday that the North likely fired two ballistic missiles from the capital’s Sunan airport, travelling 380 kilometres (236 miles) and reaching a maximum altitude of 42 kilometres (26 miles).
The launch was also confirmed by Japan’s government, which criticised the tests as a threat to regional peace and security.
The missiles appeared to have landed in the water near North Korea’s east coast, according to Nobuo Kishi, Japan’s defence minister.
He told reporters, “It is self-evident that the goal of North Korea’s repeated missile tests is to strengthen their missile technology.”
“North Korea’s frequent ballistic missile launches are a major challenge for the entire community, including Japan,” Kishi added.
The Indo-Pacific Command of the US military said the missile launch did not pose an imminent threat to the US or its allies, but “recent missile launches underline the destabilising impact of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons programme.”
Since the beginning of the year, North Korea has conducted a succession of launches, most recently announcing the successful test of a hypersonic weapon last week.
It also launched two missiles from a train on Friday.
Nuclear-armed The United Nations has barred Pyongyang from testing ballistic missiles, and denuclearisation discussions have been stuck since a meeting between Kim and former US President Donald Trump collapsed in 2019 over North Korean demands for sanctions relief.
North Korea’s foreign ministry blasted the US on Friday for implementing fresh restrictions in reaction to the tests, accusing the US of taking a “confrontational attitude.”
The United States is also pressing the United Nations to adopt tougher action against North Korea in response to its latest nuclear tests.
Some observers believe Kim is reverting to his old tactic of launching missiles and threatening to use force to get concessions from the US in any future confrontations.
“They [North Korea] are definitely constructing a missile force, and Kim Jong Un wants to test them, and there’s no reason not to now that there’s not much going on in the negotiating front,” said Robert Kelly, a political science and diplomacy professor at South Korea’s Pusan National University.
North Korea’s dictatorship has always prioritised its own security and safety over the interests and wellbeing of its own people.”
“North Korean leaders have stated for decades that they are interested in getting the economy up and running, working more efficiently, and being less corrupt. But that has never materialized. North Korea has been reliant on food aid since at least the 1990s, and possibly even before that. Kim has the power to change that. However, it would necessitate a significant shift of state resources away from the military, as well as a concerted push to have the sanctions lifted and increase North Korea’s internal self-sufficiency. And the regime has failed to do so.”
North korea appears to be preparing to open at least some trade across its land border with china, while being more isolated than ever due to self-imposed border closures aimed at keeping covid-19 out.
After a north korean train entered into a chinese border town on Sunday, the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus border lockdowns began in 2020, chinese brokers told reuters they expect regular commerce with north korea to resume as soon as Monday.
According to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, “this timing implies Beijing is more than complicit with Pyongyang’s provocations; China is assisting North Korea economically and coordinating with it militarily.”
China criticised the latest US penalties last week, but also urged all parties to exercise caution and participate in talks in order to de-escalate tensions.
Beijing claims to be enforcing existing international sanctions, but has joined Russia in urging the United Nations Security Council to relax restrictions against North Korea.