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North Korea detected firing missile into the sea

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Picture by Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP
Hyung-Jin Kim, Associated Press

The South Korean and Japanese militaries say North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea.

It was the first such launch in about two months and taken as a signal Pyongyang is not interested in rejoining denuclearisation talks any time soon and would rather focus on boosting its weapons arsenal.

The latest launch on Wednesday came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to further boost his military capability at a high-profile ruling party conference last week.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday morning, adding South Korean and US intelligence authorities were trying to analyse more information about the launch.

In an emergency video conference, members of South Korea’s presidential national security team expressed concerns about the launch and said resuming talks with Pyongyang is important to resolve tensions, according to the presidential Blue House.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also detected the North Korean launch, saying the country likely fired a missile.

“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Between September and November, North Korea performed a spate of weapons tests in what experts called an attempt to apply more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power state in the hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions.

The weapons tested included a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a developmental hypersonic missile. Since its artillery firing drills in early November, North Korea had halted testing activities until Wednesday’s launch.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions, but the North has so far rebuffed such overtures and said US hostility remains unchanged.

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