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North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile in fourth test this month

North Korea is testing weapons to project strength amid international sanctions

North Korea is testing weapons to project strength amid international sanctions

North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles toward the ocean off its east coast on Monday, the South Korean military said.

This would be the fourth weapons test by Pyongyang since New Year's Day — a frequency that observers believe is unusual.

Japan's coast guard confirmed the launch of at least one missile.

What do we know about the launch?

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired from an area near North Korea's Sunan airport, the international airport that serves the country's capital.

It was not immediately clear what kind of a missile was fired on Monday.

But both South Korean and Japanese officials said they detected a possible ballistic missile launch from the North.

"North Korea appears to have launched a possible ballistic missile," a Japanese Coast Guard spokesman was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.

The coast guard also issued a statement urging vessels traveling around the Japanese coast to watch out for falling objects.

It added that no immediate damage to vessels or aircraft was reported.

What did the previous tests involve?

North Korea conducted three other tests this month, two of which involved single "hypersonic missiles" capable of high speeds and maneuvering after launch.

The first launch came on January 5, followed by another one less than a week later, on January 11.

On Friday, the North test-fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from a train.

What's the international response?

Last week, the United States imposed fresh sanctions on the nuclear-armed country — the first by President Joe Biden's administration.

Washington also called on the United Nations to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities.

Earlier this month, six countries including the US, issued a joint statement urging North Korea to cease "destabilizing actions."

What has North Korea said?

Pyongyang called the sanctions a "provocation," and said it had a "legitimate right" to self-defense, a foreign ministry spokesperson told state news agency KCNA.

The North's missile tests are seen as attempts to counter an unstable international situation amid stalled talks with South Korea and the United States.

Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have remained stalled since a failed summit between Kim and then US President Donald Trump in 2019.

The US, under the current President Joe Biden, has since declared a willingness for dialogue, while saying it will seek "denuclearization."

Pyongyang has rejected the offer saying it is open to talks only if Washington and others cease "hostile policies" such as sanctions and military exercises in the region.

adi/wd (Reuters, AFP)

Updated : 2022-05-16 14:30 GMT+08:00