SEOUL-On Wednesday, North Korea tested two ballistic missiles. This was the second launch in less than a week and the most recent attempt to increase diplomatic pressure on the United States.
According to a text message from the South Korean military, the missiles were launched from inland areas in central North Korea and splashed into the waters off the country’s east coast.
Few other details are immediately available, including what missiles were fired or how far they flew. The Ministry of Defense of Japan stated that these projectiles did not enter Japanese territory, but fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The US military said in a statement that it was aware of the launch and assessed that it would not pose a direct threat to US personnel, territory or allies. However, a statement issued by the Indo-Pacific Command stated that the launch “highlights the destabilizing impact of North Korea’s illegal weapons program.”
The launch was carried out two days after North Korea claimed to have tested a new long-range cruise missile. This is the first known missile test conducted by Pyongyang in about six months.
North Korea tests a long-range cruise missile designed to evade defense
This is North Korea’s first missile test in six months
At the end of last month, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency stated that North Korea appeared to have restarted a nuclear reactor that produces plutonium at the Yongbyon nuclear power plant.
Some analysts said that these actions show that North Korea is trying to increase its bargaining chips with the United States when the nuclear negotiations are at a deadlock. North Korea often engages in diplomacy after increasing tensions through verbal threats or weapon tests.
North Korea’s latest launch coincides with a visit to Tokyo by Kim Sung, the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea, and he is meeting with his colleagues in South Korea and Japan.
On Tuesday, the U.S. envoy reiterated Washington’s proposal to restart negotiations unconditionally, stating that the U.S. is ready to cooperate with North Korea on humanitarian issues “regardless of the progress of denuclearization.”
Although the administration of US President Joe Biden has expressed its willingness to resume negotiations with North Korea, most of its focus has been placed on other places, such as the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and efforts to fight COVID-19.
Bong Young-sik, a researcher at the North Korean Research Institute of Yonsei University, said: “North Korea has expressed dissatisfaction with the Biden administration in the name of a cautious and cooperative North Korea policy. The Biden administration has always adopted a very passive policy towards North Korea.” Seoul South Korea Research.
Bong said that another possible factor is the upcoming presidential election in South Korea. So far, the movement has rarely discussed North Korea. Instead, candidates focus on economics and COVID-19 policy.
He added: “The North Korean leader has definitely decided to increase the level of provocation in order to attract more attention from all parties involved.”
In June of this year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stated that North Korea is preparing for “dialogue and confrontation” with the United States.
A few months later, North Korea briefly reopened several communication lines with South Korea, which gave people high hopes for Pyongyang to enter a new stage of diplomacy. But a few days later, after South Korea and the United States continued to conduct joint military exercises that Pyongyang deemed provocative, North Korea cut off the hotline.
For most of this year, North Korea has been paying attention to domestic issues, including natural disasters, epidemic prevention and food shortages. As these crises still exist, some analysts predict that North Korea may avoid major provocations that could bring further economic and diplomatic isolation.