North Korea has announced that it successfully tested a ballistic missile on Tuesday, the eighth time the reclusive regime has done so this year, in defiance of UN resolutions.
North Korean state news agency KCNA reported that Pyongyang had tested a “new type” of submarine-launched ballistic missile that it said would help enhance the country’s defence technology and the navy’s underwater operational capability.
Photos published by KCNA showed a relatively small rocket with a limited range. This, along with the absence of leader Kim Jong Un at the launch, suggested to analysts that the test wasn’t a groundbreaking development for North Korea’s missile programme.
However, the North Korean leadership’s resumption of regular missile tests in the past several months has raised concerns in the international community. Analysts confirm that Pyongyang has recently refocused its energies on militarization.
At the request of the US and Britain, the UN Security Council will discuss the latest North Korean missile test in New York on Wednesday.
Representatives of South Korea and Japan met with their US counterparts in Washington earlier this week to discuss North Korea’s nuclear programme. The US Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim condemned the recent use of a ballistic missile and called on North Korea to refrain from further provocations and to instead engage in talks.
The South Korean government continues to push for dialogue with the North. Foreign Minister Chung Eui Yong suggesting during a speech in parliament that sanctions relief could be used as a carrot to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table “on condition that the North accepts the proposal of dialogue.”
UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, which, depending on their design, can also carry nuclear warheads. Pyongyang is also subject to strict international sanctions for its on-going nuclear weapons programme.
Nevertheless, Pyongyang’s defiant testing has so far this year included a hypersonic missile, which, it claims, is difficult to intercept due to its high speed.
Negotiations between North Korea and the United States have not made any progress since Kim’s failed summit with then-US president Donald Trump in Vietnam in February 2019.