N.Korea Tests its Missiles amidst Russia_Ukraine War
missile on Sunday, military officials in South Korea and Japan said, in what would be the first test since the nuclear-armed country conducted a record number of launches in January.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that North Korea had fired a suspected ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast from a location near Sunan, where Pyongyang’s international airport is located.
The United States condemned the latest launch and called on North Korea to cease destabilising acts, but said the test did not pose an immediate threat, said the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command.
North Korea’s last test was on Jan. 30, when it fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile.
The largest weapon test-fired since 2017, the Hwasong-12 was reported to have flown to an altitude of about 2,000 km (1,200 miles) and range of 800 km (500 miles). That capped a record month of mostly short-range missile launches in January.
Sunday’s launch came less than two weeks ahead of South Korea’s March 9 presidential election, amid fears by some in Seoul and Tokyo that Pyongyang may push ahead with missile development while international attention is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“This launch comes as the international community is responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and if North Korea is making use of that situation, it is something we cannot tolerate,” Kishi said.
South Korea’s National Security Council convened an emergency meeting to discuss the launch, which it called “regrettable”, according to a statement from the presidential Blue House.
“Launching a ballistic missile at a time when the world is making efforts to resolve the Ukraine war is never desirable for peace and stability in the world, the region, and on the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.
The leading conservative candidate, Yoon Suk-Yeol, warned last week that North Korea could see the Ukraine crisis as “an opportunity for launching its own provocation.”
Candidates and analysts have noted, however, that even before the invasion North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was overseeing an increase in missile tests as talks with the United States and its allies remain stalled.
“Putin’s War shapes almost all geopolitics right now, and should factor somewhere in Kim’s calculus — but even ‘taking advantage of distraction’ seems to presume too much, since (North Korea) was already testing aggressively before the war,” John Delury, a professor at South Korea’s Yonsei University, said on Twitter.