North Korea fires unidentified projectile into East Sea

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North Korea fires unidentified projectile into East Sea

Travelers at Seoul Station, central Seoul, watch the news of North Korea's launch of a possible ballistic missile on Wednesday morning. [YONHAP]

Travelers at Seoul Station, central Seoul, watch the news of North Korea's launch of a possible ballistic missile on Wednesday morning. [YONHAP]

 
North Korea launched a possible ballistic missile into waters east of the Korean Peninsula early on Wednesday morning in the first such test in the New Year. 
 
According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the North fired what is suspected to be a single ballistic missile. 
 
The launch was also reported by the Japanese Coast Guard.
 
The launch of the possible ballistic missiles comes 78 days after the North last conducted a missile test.
 
That test, which took place on Oct. 19, saw the North launch a new, smaller submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
 
At a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the country’s ruling Workers' Party last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to continue building up his regime’s weapons capabilities.
 
Despite self-enforced isolation due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and international sanctions tied to its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program, Pyongyang has pressed on with expanding its arsenal of weapons delivery systems over the past year. 
 
In 2021, the nuclear-armed regime tested not only a new SLBM, but also a long-range cruise missile, a train-launched ballistic missile unit and a hypersonic missile. 
 
In all, the North conducted seven major weapons tests last year. 
 
Under United Nations Security Council resolutions, the North is prohibited from testing ballistic missiles, but not cruise missiles. 
 
Wednesday’s missile test comes as South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pushing for an official declaration to end the Korean War.
 
The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice agreement signed by the U.S.-led UN Command, North Korea and China on July 27, 1953, bringing about a ceasefire until a final peaceful settlement was achieved. 
 
The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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