According to South Korea, on Wednesday the country fired two ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan.
According to reports from South Korea and Japan, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast, meaning it has violated UN resolutions.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff claims the short-range missiles flew 500 miles from the launch site in central North Korea, at a maximum altitude of 60 km.
Although the weapons went to Japan, the US Indo-Pacific Command claims that the missiles did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel, territory or allies.
Nevertheless, experts believe that the use of such missiles displayed the “destabilizing effect” of the country’s “illegal weapons program”.
The country also fired a long-range cruise missile on Monday, which it claimed was capable of hitting most of Japan and which some believe had nuclear weapons.
Why is North Korea doing this?
North Korea has spent more than a year in pandemic lockdown, and has cut most of its trade with China to contain the spread of COVID-19, meaning it is on the verge of economic collapse.
However, these tests show that its priority is still the weapon.
It is North Korea’s first ballistic missile test in six months, and another setback to denuclearization talks that first began in 2018 between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader King Jong Un.
It is said that the country may be trying to increase its leverage with the US by upping its technology game.
The US has been trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear and missile programs and sanctions relief in return, but talks have stalled since 2019.
Some believe that North Korea was also trying to topple South Korea in an arms race.
Why is this a big deal?
The United Nations has banned North Korea from conducting ballistic missile tests since 2018 to curtail its nuclear program.
Despite strong warnings from the international community, the country tested the first ballistic missiles that could reach almost all of Western Europe and half the states. Its last ballistic test in March was strongly rebuked by the US, China and Japan.
The UN Security Council does not prohibit the testing of cruise missiles, such as the one North Korea fired on Monday, but considers ballistic missiles to be more dangerous because they can carry more weight and travel faster.
Ballistic missiles are usually nuclear, and fly in a large arc before going back down, while cruise missiles are self-propelled and move in a straight line.
According to experts, the long-range cruise missile released by the nation earlier this week was also thought to have carried a nuclear warhead, though this is yet to be confirmed.
These two missile tests could be a sign of what’s to come in just a few days – the United Nations nuclear agency also noted a “deeply disturbing” development in August that North Korea had restarted a reactor that had been exposed to nuclear weapons. can make plutonium for its weapons program, despite international backlash against it.
What do North Korea’s neighbors think?
South Korea is in an arms race with its northern neighbor “Best Korea” and recently tested its first submarine-launched ballistic missile.
The operation was planned and was not in response to a North Korean missile launch – there were reports of North Korean missiles during test firing.
But the tests mean the South has “enough deterrence to respond to North Korea’s provocation at any time,” according to the country’s president, Moon Jae-in, and the first country without nuclear weapons to develop the system. Is.
Moon said South Korea would continue to develop its weapons to “dominate North Korea’s asymmetric power”.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the ballistic missile test was an “outrageous” move on the part of North Korea because it undermined peace in the region.
China is pushing for all countries in the region to work together to maintain peace, with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying: “Not only North Korea but other countries are carrying out military activity.”
The US has so far described the tests as “unsettling” but does not yet pose an immediate threat.
Envoys from Japan, South Korea and the US met in Tokyo on Tuesday to discuss their countries’ commitments to nuclear diplomacy.