SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its east coast on Wednesday, according to the South Korean military, two days after Pyongyang said it had tested a new missile in its first weapons test in six months.
The projectile flew into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, which did not provide further details. It was not clear what type the projectile was.
North Korea said Monday it had done two tests of a newly developed cruise missile over the weekend. North Korean state media described the missile as a “highly relevant strategic weapon”, suggesting that it had been developed with the intention of arming it with nuclear warheads.
Many experts opine that the test suggests that North Korea seeks to bolster its arsenal amid a stalemate in diplomatic efforts toward a nuclear deal between Pyongyang and Washington.
The launch coincided with a visit to Seoul by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other dignitaries and address the stalled nuclear diplomatic contacts with Pyongyang.
Talks between the United States and North Korea stalled in 2019, when the Americans rejected North Korea’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility. For now, the Kim administration has rejected calls by the Joe Biden administration for dialogue, and demands that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.
The resumption of arms tests in North Korea is likely an attempt to pressure the Biden government, after Kim failed to secure economic concessions during the presidency of Donald Trump.