South Korea said its neighbor North fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea on Sunday, in a move that indicates Pyongyang’s determination to continue its missile launches of the past year.
This missile, on the first day of the New Year, is the second missile launched by North Korea within a few days.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the missile was launched from the Yeongseong area in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and fell into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.
The General Staff did not give more details about this launch.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula intensified in 2022, with Pyongyang conducting weapons tests almost every month, including intercontinental ballistic missiles – in breach of sanctions imposed on the country.
Yesterday, Saturday, North Korea launched three short-range ballistic missiles, according to South Korea, which announced a day earlier the successful test launch of a solid-fuel spacecraft.
The ballistic missile launches also come after five North Korean drones entered South Korean airspace last Monday.
This incursion by drones is the first of its kind in five years, and it prompted an apology from the South Korean Defense Minister for the failure of his defenses to shoot down any of those five drones, despite trying to do so for five hours.
South Korean President Yoon Sok-yul described the incident as “unacceptable,” vowing “serious consequences for these provocations.”
On Thursday, the South Korean army conducted maneuvers aimed at strengthening defense capabilities to confront any future provocations using drones.
On Friday, South Korea successfully test-launched a spacecraft, as part of the country’s drive to enhance its space exploration capabilities, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
And North Korea announced earlier in December that it was about to complete the development of a reconnaissance satellite, claiming that it had been able to develop modern techniques for taking pictures from space.
A meeting of the ruling party, headed by leader Kim Jong Un and other prominent officials, is currently being held in Pyongyang, in order to set goals for the year 2023 on the diplomatic, security and economic levels.
Leader Kim said earlier that his country seeks to possess the largest nuclear power in the world, declaring North Korea a nuclear state “without return.”
On Wednesday, Kim set “new major targets” for his country’s military, the country’s state media reported, without giving details.
The North Korean leader ordered the development of new intercontinental ballistic missiles and the production of tactical nuclear weapons to counter threats from the United States and South Korea.
At Sunday’s meeting, Kim stressed the need to bolster North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, as well as secure “overwhelming military force” to defend the country’s sovereignty and security.
Kim accused Washington and Seoul of carrying out a plan to “isolate and strangle” Pyongyang, saying that history has not known a plan comparable to that plan.
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