North Korea fires projectile after criticizing sanctions

SEOUL – North Korea fired an unidentified projectile off its east coast on Friday, hours after warning of a “stronger and certain reaction” if the United States helped impose more sanctions on the North in response. to its recent series of missile tests.

South Korea’s military said its analysts are studying the trajectory and other flight data since launch to find out more. When North Korea launches a missile, the South’s military usually calls it “an unidentified projectile” before giving further details.

Earlier on Friday, North Korea’s foreign ministry issued a statement denouncing a US proposal for the UN Security Council to impose new sanctions on North Korea following its six ballistic and other missile tests since September 2021.

The tit for tat between North Korea and the United States has raised tensions at a sensitive time in the region, as China prepares to host the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month and South Korea for his presidential election on March 9.

Separately on Wednesday, the Biden administration blacklisted five North Korean officials active in Russia and China who Washington said were responsible for sourcing goods for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

North Korea resumed missile testing in September after a six-month hiatus. It has since carried out at least six missile tests, which involved a long-range strategic cruise missile, ballistic missiles released from mountain tunnels and a mini submarine-launched ballistic missile. In two tests this month, it launched what it called hypersonic ballistic missiles with removable hover warheads that made them harder to intercept because they could change course during flight.

All of the tests violated UN Security Council resolutions barring North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile technology or technology used to manufacture and deliver nuclear weapons. But the North Korean Foreign Ministry insisted on Friday that it was exercising “its right of self-defense” and that the missile tests were “part of its efforts to modernize its national defense capability”.

“The United States is intentionally aggravating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content to refer the DPRK’s righteous activity to the UN Security Council,” the ministry said in a statement, using the acronym from the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He added, “If the United States adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to respond to it with greater force and certainty.”

The statement did not specify possible future actions by North Korea. But the country has resumed missile testing since meetings between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and then-president Donald J. Trump ended without an agreement on how to roll back the North’s nuclear weapons program. nor on when the sanctions will be lifted.

Those tests indicated the North was developing more sophisticated ways to deliver nuclear and other warheads to South Korea, Japan and U.S. bases on its shorter-range missiles, defense analysts said. Some of the missiles it has tested since 2019 used solid fuel and performed mid-air maneuvers, making them harder to intercept, analysts said.

North Korea has not resumed testing of long-range missiles of the type that could directly threaten the continental United States since it conducted three intercontinental ballistic missile tests in 2017. But since the collapse of diplomacy Kim- Trump, North Korea has warned that it does not feel bound by the self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing. It has since unveiled its largest ever tested ICBM at a military parade and exhibition.

At a meeting of the Workers’ Party in January last year, Mr Kim pledged to build more sophisticated short-range nuclear missiles, hypersonic missiles, large ICBMs and long-range rocket-launched missiles. submarines, as well as placing military spy satellites in orbit.

On Friday, North Korea reiterated that its missile tests “did not target any particular country or force and did not harm the security of neighboring countries.” But in Tuesday’s test, the North’s hypersonic missile crossed the country from west to east, then veered northeast, flying over the waters between Russia’s Far East and Japan towards the Pacific, according to its report. graphic trajectory in one of the photos published in North Korean state media.

The missile hit a target 621 miles away, the North said. And as the missile rolled out of North Korea at up to 10 times the speed of sound, aviation regulators briefly halted flights from some airports on the US West Coast as a measure. precautionary.

It was the first missile test Mr Kim had attended since March 2020, according to reports in North Korean media.

The test prompted South Korea to reassure its people this week that its military can detect and intercept new missiles from the North.

Washington has repeatedly urged North Korea is to resume talks, but the country has said it will not do so until it is satisfied that the United States will remove its “hostile” policies, including sanctions.

China, which can veto Washington’s attempt to impose more sanctions on the Security Council, has called for dialogue.

“Deliberate sanctions do not help solve the Korean Peninsula problem, but only aggravate the mood of confrontation,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a briefing. press on Wednesday.

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