North Korea tested-fired a submarine-launched ballistic weapon just days before South Korea installed a new leader, who has pledged to be tough against Pyongyang.
Seoul claimed that the rocket was launched from Sinpo in the east, near the port city of Sinpo. There North maintains a submarine base.
Japan confirmed the launch with Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, ordering officials to be prepared for any “unforeseeable circumstances” as a response.
This comes before Yoon Suk-yeol (a conservative South Korean president) is inaugurated. He has vowed that Seoul will increase its missile capabilities and strengthen its military alliance to Washington in order to combat the North’s threat.
The US President Joe Biden will visit South Korea and meet with him on 21 mai.
After Kim Jong Un pledged to build its nuclear arsenal “at a rapid pace”, North Korea launched a ballistic missile near its capital and into the sea offshore its east coast earlier in the week.
This latest launch is believed to be North Korea’s 15th round missile firings this calendar year. It also marks the first test of an intercontinental missile in North Korea since March 2017, which demonstrated its potential to reach US targets.
Also, signs indicate that Pyongyang is creating a site to replace the place where it conducted its sixth and final nuclear test in September 2017. This will allow for another explosive trial.
Leif-Eric Easley is a professor at Ewha University, Seoul. He said that a seventh nuclear test would mark the first since September 2017. It could also raise tensions on Korea’s Peninsula and increase dangers of miscalculations and miscommunications between the Kim regime, and the incoming Yoon administration.
North Korea has used a favorable environment to push its weapons ambitions, with the UN Security Council divided over Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Experts believe that the unusually rapid pace of testing points to a brinkmanship to force the US to recognize the North as a nuclear-power and to remove crippling sanctions.
Recent missile tests by Mr Kim have warned the North that it could use its nuclear weapons to prevent being threatened or provoked. This, observers believe, could signal an escalatory doctrine which could increase concern for South Korea and Japan.
Pyongyang has been working hard to obtain the capability to fire nuclear-armed rockets from submarines. This would theoretically increase its deterrent and allow it to retaliate against any nuclear attack.
The North’s land-based missile arsenal would be further threatened by ballistic missile submarines.
Experts say that the nation sanctioned by international sanctions would require more resources, time and technological advancements to construct a fleet capable of avoiding detection and carrying out strikes.