People watch an information program about a parade marking the 73rd anniversary of the founding of North Korea, held in Pyongyang, at a train station in Seoul on September 9, 2021.
Jung Yeon-je | AFP | Getty Images
North Korea launched ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, prompting the condemnation of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
It came two days after the reclusive test of the North fired cruise missiles.
The South Korean military said two sets of unidentified ballistic missiles were fired into the open waters of the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, according to NBC News.
Japan’s Suga called the missile launch “simply outrageous” and said it was a “threat to peace and security” in the region.
“This is in violation of the UN Security Council resolution, and I strongly protest and condemn this,” he told his office, adding that the government would continue to monitor the area.
“We will work closely with the United States, South Korea and other concerned countries to resolutely protect the lives of our citizens and their peaceful lives,” said the Prime Minister.
South Korea’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said local and US intelligence services are carrying out a detailed analysis.
South Korea will hold an emergency meeting on the ballistic missile launch on Wednesday afternoon, NBC reported.
“President Moon Jae In was immediately informed of the launch by NK of the unidentified projectile … [and] will convene the meeting of the National Security Council with members of its standing committee upon his return from his outdoor hours today, ”Park Kyung-mi, the presidential spokesman, said in a text briefing.
What is North Korea trying to report?
The missile launches come during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Seoul and as senior officials from the United States, Japan and South Korea meet in Tokyo to discuss the North’s nuclear ambitions .
“It’s no coincidence that North Korea has launched something today, basically to get the attention of all these other countries,” said Shawn Ho, associate researcher at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. (RSIS) in Singapore.
It appears North Korea decided it was in its best interests to fire missiles on Wednesday knowing China would be unhappy, he told CNBC.
North Korea continues to develop missiles, driven by security strategy and technical factors, and missile tests contradict international hopes for dialogue, said Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
The launch gives the impression that China “is unwilling or unable to contain Pyongyang,” he added.
North Korea is also trying to signal that it should be taken seriously by the United States and China, and is using “provocative actions” to pressure Beijing not to overlook Pyongyang, Ryu Yongwook said. , Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
It demonstrates the North’s determination to “defy international rules and norms” and shows its potential to wreak havoc on regional peace and prosperity, he told CNBC in an email.
Unstable relations between the United States and North Korea
Pyongyang’s latest missile launch is a “strong signal” to the United States that recent conciliatory messages have not been enough, Ryu added.
He is trying to get the United States to do a lot, like lifting economic sanctions, but “progress will be difficult to achieve” as both sides are likely to stick to their current positions, he said. predicted.
The United States should send the message that denuclearization will lead to economic development and prosperity for North Korea, he said.
Ho of RSIS said North Korea’s actions may make it more difficult for the United States to continue offering negotiations.
“It may appear that the Americans are perhaps too indulgent or too eager to engage North Korea, which might not help in terms of domestic policy,” he said.
North Korea regularly uses missile tests to ensure it attracts the attention of the international community, analysts told CNBC last year. The regime launched missiles at the start of the terms of former presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and outgoing President Joe Biden.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that Wednesday’s launch “highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” but added that it does not pose an immediate threat. for Washington personnel, territory or allies.
He said the United States’ commitment to defend South Korea and Japan “remains foolproof.”
Relations between the United States and North Korea have been volatile in recent years.
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded pikes in 2017, but then decided to hold two bilateral meetings to discuss denuclearization and possible sanctions relief. Little progress has been made after the abrupt end of the second summit in Hanoi.