North Korea reportedly launched a ballistic rocket just days after Kim Jong Un pledged to increase his nuclear arsenal at the “fastest pace possible”.
Officials from Japan and South Korea said that the launch, which was the 14th round in North Korean weapons firings this year, originated at Sunan airport in the capital region. It then flew to the waters off the East Coast.
It occurs six days before a conservative South Korean president is elected for a single five year term.
Yoon Suk-yeol, President-elect, has pledged to increase Seoul’s missile capabilities and strengthen its military alliance with Washington in order to better deal with the increasing threat from North Korea.
Japan’s Defence Ministry stated that North Korea may have fired a ballistic missile, but didn’t provide any further information.
The Japanese Coast Guard advised vessels off the Japanese coasts to avoid any fragments.
According to observers, North Korea’s unusually rapid pace of weapons testing this year demonstrates its dual goals: to advance its missile programs and apply pressure on Washington for a deeper freeze in nuclear negotiations.
According to them, Mr Kim plans to eventually use his increased arsenal to secure international recognition of North Korea’s nuclear status. This would allow the United States to ease international economic sanctions against the North.
One of the North Korean missiles that was tested recently is believed to be an intercontinental missile capable of reaching the entire American homeland.
The missile’s launch ended Mr Kim’s 2018 self-imposed moratorium on large weapons tests.
Last week, the president displayed his most powerful nuclear-capable rockets at a huge military parade in Pyongyang.
During a speech to the parade, Mr Kim stated that he would continue to build his arsenal at the fastest pace and warned that North Korea would use its nuclear weapons in an emergency if it was threatened with its national interests.