South Korea’s military reported that North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) from an airport inside the North Korean capital city, Pyongyang. The launch marks the fourth said North Korean weapons systems test in January.
Japanese media also reported the launch, and Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno urged all nations to seek stability in the face of North Korea’s continuing threats to peace and regional security.
Chinese spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters that his nation calls on the “relevant sides” to keep peace on the Korean peninsula in mind at a daily briefing following the suspected missile test.
This month, North Korea conducted two earlier tests involving hypersonic missiles capable of low flight paths at extremely high speeds while maintaining maneuverability at low altitudes. Then the nation showed a test of two SRBMs last Friday launched from railway cars.
The South Korean military said the Monday launches came from Sunan Airfield, where North Korea has previously launched intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The missiles found Monday traveled around 236 miles and reached a maximum altitude of approximately 26 miles.
The Japanese military stated that the missiles splashed down off the North Korean east coast in the ocean. The Japanese spokesperson said that the repeated missile launches inside North Korea are a “grave problem” for Japan and the entire international community. The launches appear to be a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from developing ballistic missile weapons systems.
On Monday, the US Indo-Pacific Command stated that the North Korea launches did not pose any immediate threat to the US or allied nations but did say they “highlight” the destabilization occurring.
North Korea has not test-launched any intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of threatening Hawaii and North America since 2017 but has ramped up the development of SRBMs that pose direct threats to South Korea and Japan.
The latest SRBMs tested by North Korea appear to be designed to evade traditional missile defense systems. The missiles also seem to have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons warheads.
Last Wednesday, Joe Biden’s Administration imposed new economic sanctions on the North Korean government and asked the UN Security Council to “blacklist” several North Korean individuals.
North Korea is meanwhile defending its recent missile tests as part of its right to national self-defense. The nation’s foreign ministry accused Biden and the US of “isolating and stifling” North Korea.