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  17 Jan 2022, 09:59
Update : 17 Jan 2022, 10:49

North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile: South Korean army

    SEOUL, Jan 17, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - North Korea has fired two suspected

ballistic missiles, South Korea's military said Monday, in what would be the
nuclear-armed country's fourth weapons test this month.

   As talks with the United States remain stalled, Pyongyang looks set on
military modernisation, testing hypersonic missiles twice this month and
firing train-borne missiles Friday in response to new sanctions.

   South Korea's military detected two suspected "short-range ballistic
missiles fired eastward from the Sunan airport in Pyongyang", Seoul's Joint
Chiefs of Staff said Monday.

   Japan's coastguard also detected the launch of "a possible ballistic
missile", a spokesman told AFP.

   Since North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un vowed to continue building up the
country's defence capabilities at a key meeting of the ruling party last
month, Pyongyang has embarked on a string of new tests.

   It said it had successfully tested a hypersonic gliding missile on January
5 and January 11.

   Kim, who personally oversaw the second launch, then called for the
development of more "strategic military muscle" after the test.

   In response, the United States last week imposed fresh sanctions on five
North Koreans connected to the country's ballistic missile programmes.

   This prompted an angry reaction from Pyongyang, with a foreign ministry
spokesman saying the sanctions were a "provocation" and accusing the US of
"intentionally escalating" the situation.

   If "the US adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced
to take stronger and certain reaction to it," the spokesman said in comments
carried by state news agency KCNA early Friday in North Korea.

   The latest test appeared to be another attempt to send the United States a
message that Pyongyang will not tolerate any infringement on its right to
self-defence, analysts told AFP. "The North appears to be sending the US a
message in response to the sanctions... it is signalling that it will forge
ahead with tests despite criticism," said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for
National Unification in Seoul.

   - Train to China? -

   Despite biting international sanctions over its weapons programmes,
Pyongyang has refused to respond to US appeals for talks.

   Dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang remains stalled, and
impoverished North Korea is also under a self-imposed coronavirus blockade
that has hammered its economy.

   The new test comes after a North Korean freight train crossed the Yalu
River railroad bridge into China Sunday, according to the Yonhap news agency.

   The move could signal the prospect of resumed China-North Korea land
trade, which has been suspended for more than a year due to the global
pandemic.

   "Amidst a flurry of missile launches, North Korea appears to have resumed
cross-border trade with China via train," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor
at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

   "This timing suggests Beijing is more than complicit with Pyongyang's
provocations; China is supporting North Korea economically and coordinating
with it militarily."

 

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