SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Reuters) – North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile off its east coast on Tuesday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, as Seoul opens a large arms fair, which chiefs said espionage meet to discuss nuclear standoff and Korea prepares for space launch.
The North Korean launch would be the country’s latest weapons test, which has continued its military development in the face of international sanctions imposed on its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
A ballistic missile was launched at around 10:17 a.m. local time from the vicinity of Sinpo, said the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, where North Korea keeps submarines as well as equipment for them. submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) firing tests. [nS6N2LF00K]
South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo quoted an anonymous military source as saying that the government “assumed it was an SLBM test,” without giving details.
North Korea also launched other types of missiles from this area.
“Our military is closely monitoring the situation and maintains a readiness position in close cooperation with the United States, to prepare for possible additional launches,” JCS said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said two ballistic missiles had been detected and that it was “regrettable” that North Korea had conducted a series of missile tests in recent weeks.
There was no immediate explanation from the South Korean JCS for the contradictory number of missiles detected.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which manages relations with the north, said routine daily liaison calls with the north went smoothly on Tuesday and made no comment on the missile launch.
LOTS OF ACTIVITY
The string of recent launches as well as the opening of an unusual military show in Pyongyang last week suggest that North Korea may resume military and international affairs after nearly two years of focusing on the interior amid the pandemic. COVID-19, analysts said.
“North Korea’s renewed ballistic missile testing suggests that the worst domestic difficulties between summer 2020-2021 may be over,” Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, said on Twitter.
“Pyongyang tends to focus on one big strategic issue at a time, so repeated testing could suggest that the military – later foreign policy – is now the priority,” he added.
Despite economic hardships amid a self-imposed pandemic lockdown, North Korea has continued its meteoric missile development and expanded nuclear activity, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
“Now that the Kim regime is gradually easing border restrictions for limited external engagement, it is simultaneously testing missiles to advance its military modernization,” he said. “Pyongyang rhetorically puts the burden of strained ties on Seoul and responsibility for restarting diplomacy on Washington. “
The launch came as intelligence chiefs from the United States, South Korea and Japan were scheduled to meet in Seoul to discuss the standoff with North Korea, among other matters, reported Yonhap News Agency, citing a government source.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim has said he will travel to Seoul for talks this week.
“The United States continues to reach out to Pyongyang to restart dialogue,” Kim said after meeting his South Korean counterpart in Washington on Monday. “We have no hostile intentions towards (North Korea) and we are open to meeting them without preconditions. “
Representatives of hundreds of international companies and international armies gathered in Seoul for the opening ceremonies of the International Aerospace and Defense Expo (ADEX).
It will be South Korea’s largest defense fair ever, with displays of next-generation fighter jets, attack helicopters, drones and other advanced weapons, as well as rockets. space and civil aerospace designs.
South Korea is preparing to test its first local space launcher on Thursday.
Although analysts say the South Korean rocket has few potential applications as a weapon, such tests are unlikely to be well received in North Korea, which has complained of a double standard in which its own space program is criticized abroad as a front for the development of military missiles.
Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gerry Doyle
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.