Amid world crisis, North Korea fires ballistic missile

North Korea fires ballistic missile, restarting weapons tests blitz
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on February 27, 2022, after North Korea fired an ‘unidentified projectile’ according to the South's military. (Photo: AFP)
SEOUL  — North Korea fired a ballistic missile Sunday, Seoul said, resuming a weapons-testing blitz after a month-long lull during the Beijing Winter Olympics, with the world’s attention now focused on Ukraine.اضافة اعلان

The Sunday launch is Pyongyang’s eighth so far this year, including test-firing its most powerful missile since high-profile negotiations between leader Kim Jong Un and then US president Donald Trump collapsed in 2017.

Diplomacy has languished ever since. And despite biting international sanctions, Pyongyang has doubled down on military development, threatening last month to abandon a self-imposed moratorium on firing long-range and nuclear weapons.

Analysts had widely predicted Pyongyang would seek to capitalize on US distraction over Russia’s Thursday invasion of Ukraine with new tests.

South Korea’s military said Sunday it had detected a ballistic missile fired towards the Sea of Japan at 07:52 local time (2252 GMT Saturday) from Pyongyang.

“The latest ballistic missile has a range of around 300 kilometers and an altitude of around 620 kilometers,” it added. Japan also confirmed the launch.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House expressed “deep concern and grave regret”, and criticized the timing “when the world is making efforts to resolve the Ukraine war”.

South Korea has said it will join international economic sanctions against Russia and, as a key US security ally, is closely watching Washington’s response to Moscow’s aggression.

Pyongyang, on the other hand, is “seizing the opportunity” to conduct weapons tests while “the US interest shifted to Europe over the Ukraine crisis and the UN Security Council unable to function,” Shin Beom-chul, a researcher at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told AFP.

North Korea sees this as a perfect moment to “continue its development of necessary weapons and to strengthen its nuclear arsenal”, with a view to being recognized as a nuclear power, he added.

Ukraine, which emerged from the Cold War with sizeable Soviet-era nuclear weapons stocks of its own, gave up its arsenal in the 1990s.

North Korea this weekend accused the United States of being the “root cause of the Ukraine crisis” saying in a statement on the Foreign Ministry website that Washington “meddled” in the internal affairs of other countries when it suited them but condemned legitimate “self-defensive measures”.

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