North Korea on Monday fired what could be a ballistic missile, the Japanese government said, in what would be the fourth test this month as Pyongyang moves forward with new military developments amid stalled persecution of the United States and South Korea.
The South Korean military also reported that the North had fired an “unidentified projectile” at the sea off its east coast.
In less than two weeks, North Korea’s nuclear-armed men have conducted three other missile tests, an unusual frequency of launches. Two of them involved single “hypersonic missiles” capable of high-speed maneuvering and launching after launch, while the last, on Friday, involved a pair of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) fired from train carriages.
It was not immediately known what type of missile was involved in Monday’s reported launch.
The launches have aroused both condemnation and an appeal for dialogue from a US administration that has introduced new sanctions against previous North Korean missile launches and is pushing for more.
US President Joe Biden’s administration imposed its first new sanctions on Pyongyang on Wednesday, urging the UN Security Council to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities. It also reiterated calls for dialogue, urging Pyongyang to return to talks aimed at easing tensions and persuading the country to surrender its arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defense and accused the United States of deliberately escalating the situation with new sanctions.
In a statement ahead of Friday’s missile tests, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said that although Washington can talk about diplomacy and dialogue, its actions showed that they were still engrossed in their policy of “isolating and suffocating” North Korea.
The launch came as North Korea, more isolated than ever during self-imposed border closures to prevent a covid-19 pandemic, appeared to be preparing to open at least some cross-border trade with China.
Chinese brokers said they expect a resumption of regular trade with North Korea as soon as Monday, after a North Korean train ran into a Chinese border town on Sunday at the first intersection of its kind since anti-coronavirus border locks began in 2020.