The South’s military said on Friday that North Korea had launched an “unspecified ballistic missile,” the latest in a string of launches by Pyongyang as Seoul cautions Kim Jong Un may be about to perform another nuclear test.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea had launched an unidentified ballistic missile into the East Sea, often referred to as the Sea of Japan.
The JCS statement omitted any further information.
As a result of the long-stalled negotiations and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s declaration of his country as an “irreversible” nuclear power last month, which effectively ended negotiations over his prohibited weapons programs, tensions on the peninsula are at their highest point in years.
The North was prepared to perform another nuclear test on Tuesday, according to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, marking its seventh atomic test overall.
During his budget statement to the legislature on Tuesday, he said, “It seems they have already finished preparations for a sixth nuclear test.”
A North Korean nuclear test would need an “unprecedentedly forceful reaction,” the United States, Japan, and South Korea said on Wednesday, pledging unanimity among the regional security partners.
North Korea has launched many artillery barrages this month into a marine “buffer zone,” which was established in 2018 as a means of lowering tensions with the South amid an unsuccessful diplomatic session.
Additionally, it said that it had conducted “tactical nuclear exercises” in which missiles carrying nuclear warheads were fired toward the South.
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The actions are a part of the North’s escalating “provocations,” as described by Seoul, this year, which have included its longest-ever missile launch by distance, which overflew Japan and led to unusual evacuation advisories.
The US has redeployed a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the area to perform extensive trilateral exercises that include Tokyo, and Seoul has lately conducted live-fire drills.
These exercises incense Pyongyang, which interprets them as invasion maneuvers and defends its barrage of missile launches as essential “countermeasures.”
After a flurry of ballistic missile launches, Seoul and Washington have repeatedly warned Pyongyang that it may be on the verge of conducting an atomic bomb test for the first time since 2017.
Kim Jong Un has prioritized creating smaller tactical nuke combat-ready weapons. However, Seoul recently warned that the North might be getting ready to carry out many consecutive nuclear tests as part of this program.
Analysts claim Pyongyang has increased its weapons tests because it is inevitable that UN inaction would shield it from harsher penalties.
China, a longstanding friend and supporter of North Korea’s economy, accused Washington of inciting the latest missile tests during a recent UN Security Council meeting to examine Pyongyang’s launch over Japan.
For months, the Security Council has been split on how to react to Pyongyang’s nuclear aspirations, with Russia and China supporting sanctions and the rest of the council supporting sympathy.