North Korea launches a new ballistic missile, and Washington expects a nuclear test

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North Korea launched a new ballistic missile on Saturday, three days before the inauguration of new South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol, who has promised to get tough with Kim Jong-un’s regime.

North Korea fired a ground-based ballistic missile on Saturday, May 7, the South Korean military staff said, just hours after the United States warned Pyongyang may resume nuclear tests in the coming weeks.

This is the 15And This year’s show of force for the nuclear-armed country that also launched an ICBM for the first time since 2017.

The new launch comes before new South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol takes office on Tuesday, favoring the balance of power with the North, and raising fears of an escalation.

The US State Department on Friday warned that a nuclear test could take place “early this month,” based on satellite imagery.

>> Also read: “Hwasong-15 or Hwasong-17: Would North Korea have faked its latest missile launch?”

“Our military revealed at about 2:07 p.m. (5:07 GMT) that a suspected short-range ballistic missile was launched from the sea off Sinpo, South Hamgyong,” the country said on Saturday. in the current situation.

Sinpo is an important naval base in North Korea. Satellite images showed submarines there in the past.

According to the Japanese Coast Guard, citing their defense ministry, Pyongyang launched something “likely to be a ballistic missile.”

At a major military parade last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to build up his nuclear forces “as soon as possible” and warned of possible strikes as “preventive measures”, mentioned by future South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol. .

On Friday, Washington warned, through diplomatic spokeswoman Galina Porter, that Pyongyang was “preparing for the Punggye-ri test site and may be ready to conduct a test there as early as this month, which will be its seventh nuclear test.”

She added that “this analysis is in line with recent public statements by North Korea itself,” stressing that the US government has shared it with its allies and will continue to “coordinate closely with them.”

Joe Biden coming soon in Tokyo and Seoul

US President Joe Biden is scheduled to visit Japan and South Korea this month, where concerns about Pyongyang will be on the list.

The recent missile launch can be linked to the visit or inauguration on Tuesday of Yoon Seok Yeol, who promised an inflexible line against North Korea.

“Instead of accepting calls for dialogue, the Kim regime appears to be preparing to test a tactical nuclear warhead,” said Leif Eric Easley, a professor at the University of Ewa in Seoul.

North Korea conducted six nuclear tests before engaging in high-level diplomacy with the United States, with then-US President Donald Trump meeting Kim Jong-un four times.

“The seventh nuclear test will be the first since September 2017 and will inflame tensions on the Korean peninsula, increasing the risks of miscalculation and miscommunication between the Kim regime and the Yun administration in the future,” Lev Eric Easley added.

Unsuccessful dialogue policy

South Korea has more conventional weapons capabilities than its northern neighbor, and Yoon Seok-yeol has called for more US military assets to be deployed.

South Korea tested its sea-to-surface ballistic missile in 2021, becoming one of the few countries to master this technology. It also revealed a supersonic cruise missile, highlighting the arms race on the peninsula.

On Wednesday, Pyongyang launched what Seoul and Tokyo described as a ballistic missile, but North Korea’s state media, which usually reports on weapons tests, did not.

“Today’s launch is similar to the ballistic missile launched on Wednesday,” Hong Min, a researcher at the Korea Institute of National Unity, believes Saturday.

“It appears that North Korea is conducting a series of tests to achieve its strategic goals,” he added.

Negotiations to persuade Kim Jong Un to give up nuclear weapons came to nothing.

For five years, South Korean President Moon Jae-in pursued a policy of dialogue with Pyongyang, but according to his successor, this “servile” approach was a clear failure.

According to analysts, Kim Jong Un may wish to warn, through this series of tests, that he is not open to dialogue with the new government.

with AFP

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