North Korea Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile Into Sea Off Japan
South Korean and Japanese authorities suspect North Korea has launched a ballistic missile into the sea off the east coast of Japan.
The claim first came from the Japanese coast guard, which said it could potentially be a ballistic missile that was fired, though no confirmation has yet been given.
The alleged incident follows news of Kim Jong-un vowing to strengthen the totalitarian state’s national defences, despite the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
Reporters were told by the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishia, North Korea has ‘repeatedly’ been launching missiles ‘since last year’, which the prime minister called ‘very regrettable,’ MailOnline reports.
It has not yet been confirmed by authorities as to what was launched, and Japan’s coast guards were unable to give further details than the suggestion that it could be a ballistic missile. ‘Our military is maintaining readiness posture in preparation for a possible additional launch while closely monitoring the situation in close cooperation with the United States,’ the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), said in a statement, per The Guardian.
Ankit Panda of the Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told BBC News: ‘There’s no way to assess whether this might have been a longer-range missile flown on a shortened trajectory.’
Nobuo Kishi, Japan’s defence minister, said the suspected missile had flown roughly 500km (310 miles), though experts says there is no way to confirm this.
Accusations that North Korea fired a missile also follows the news that the country was banned from testing any ballistic missiles by the United Nations Security Council.
Furthermore, North Korea itself suspended any testing on nuclear weapons or intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), with the last trial having occurred in 2017.
However, in October, the country did fire a new ballistic missile at a shorter range, and it has continued to test them since. Last year, North Korea continued its weapons programme, reportedly testing a new hypersonic missile, as well as missiles on trains and long-range missiles.
A diplomatic overture, which was put forward after the last test of a nuclear bomb or ICBMs in 2017, has been held back between North Korea, the United States and South Korea. While Kim Jong-un first initiated the negotiations, in his latest speech he gave no hint as to if they would be restarted.
The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, hoped to achieve a resolution for the dealings by May, which is when his term ends, however it is now uncertain how likely that is to happen. ‘We should not give up the hope for dialogue in order to fundamentally overcome this situation. If both Koreas work together and build trust, peace will be achieved one day,’ Moon said recently.
The US still hopes to open a dialogue with North Korea, according to spokesperson for the State Department, Ned Price.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Most Read StoriesMost Read