North Korea fired two suspected ballistic missiles Saturday, adding to its most recent series of launches that started in late September.
Two short-range suspected ballistic missiles were fired from Pyongyang, Yonhap reported, citing South Korea’s military. The missiles landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Kyodo said, citing an unidentified government official.
Further information wasn’t immediately available and North Korea typically doesn’t comment on its missile tests until a day after the fact — if at all.
The launch is the fourth in a week, coming after Kim Jong Un’s regime ended a three-month hiatus on ballistic missile tests. United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibit Pyongyang from testing ballistic missiles and detonating nuclear devices.
North Korea has a habit of timing its weapons test to political events and the launches coincided with a visit to Japan and South Korea by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and the arrival of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier group to South Korea for joint drills. North Korea has bristled for decades at U.S.-South Korean military exercises, calling them a prelude to an invasion.
During her visit which took her to the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas, Harris warned North Korea against raising tensions and called on Kim to return to stalled nuclear disarmament talks. The U.S., South Korea and Japan have all said that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test in five years.
So far in 2022, the North Korean leader has fired off more ballistic missiles than in any other year of his decade in power. He has tested rockets designed to evade US-operated interceptors, increasing the threat of a credible nuclear strike against the U.S. and its allies in Asia.
Pyongyang is also seeking to miniaturize warheads for potential tactical strikes and build more powerful weapons for its missiles that could carry a warhead to the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. push to isolate Russia over Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, coupled with increasing animosity toward China, has allowed Kim to strengthen his nuclear deterrent without fear of facing more sanctions at the U.N. Security Council. There’s almost no chance Russia or China, which have veto power at the council, would support any measures against North Korea, as they did in 2017 following a series of weapons tests that prompted former President Donald Trump to warn of “fire and fury.”
The two countries in late May vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution drafted by the U.S. to ratchet up sanctions on North Korea for its ballistic missile tests this year.©2022 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.