Japan’s coast guard said on Sunday that North Korea had fired what could be a ballistic missile, its first test since the nuclear-armed nation conducted several tests. record launch in January.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff also reported that North Korea fired at least one “unidentified projectile” to the east, without elaborating.
Sunday’s launch came less than two weeks before a key presidential election in South Korea on March 9, amid concerns that North Korea could push ahead with missile development while the attention of International focus is on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The leading conservative candidate, Yoon Suk-Yeol, warned last week that North Korea could see the Ukraine crisis as “an opportunity to launch its own provocation”.
North Korea’s last test was on January 30, when it fired the Hwasong-12 medium-range ballistic missile, the largest weapon fired since 2017. That capped a record month for launches. Short-range missiles mainly in January.
Amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States, North Korea has hinted that it may continue to test longer-range missiles or even nuclear weapons.
(Reporting by Josh Smith in Seoul and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Daniel Wallis)