North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Sunday. The speed of the rocket exceeded the speed of sound by 16 times, and the launch was only the seventh since the beginning of 2022. Once again, the Japanese government protested to the DPRK.
16 times faster than sound
The launch of the medium-range missile was reported by the Yonhap news agency, citing South Korea ‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The rocket flew about 800 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometers and reached a maximum speed of Mach 16, which is 16 times the speed of sound, and is similar to the speed of the Hwaseong-12 rocket that the DPRK tested in 2017. This was reported to journalists by a military official who wished to remain anonymous.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff have warned fishing boats in the area of the risk of falling debris. The South Korean military suggests that the launch was carried out from the area of Chagang Province. At the same time, the rocket did not affect the radiation background in the Primorsky Territory, the Primhydromet reported.
“The radiation background in Primorye is 11 µR / h, which corresponds to the usual indicators,” Interfax quoted the message as saying.
The current launch was the seventh demonstration of the forces of the DPRK this year, Yonhap notes. This is the largest weapons test by North Korea since the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.
As early as January 20, Pyongyang issued a thinly veiled threat to lift the moratorium on nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which the DPRK voluntarily announced at the end of 2017.
The authors of the article noted that Pyongyang has been escalating tensions w-ith a series of missile lau-nches since the beginning of this year, as Washington stepped up sanctions pressure on the DPRK amid a deadlock in negotiations on nuclear weapons between the countries.
In addition, in his New Year’s address, Kim Jong-un called for supporting the armed forces with advanced technology at a time when negotiations with South Korea and the United States stalled.
The US Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch and called on North Korea to refrain from “further destabilizing actions.”
“Although we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel and territory or the territory of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation… The US commitment to protecting the Republic of Korea (South Korea – Gazeta.Ru) and Japan rem-ains unshakable, ”quotes Reuters statement by the United States military.
And a US State Depart-ment spokesman said the launch demonstrates the threat posed by North Korea’s illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and called on Pyongyang to engage in “ongoing and substantive” dialogue.
The South Korean National Security Council at an emergency meeting also condemned the launch of the DPRK and demanded that a moratorium be observed, as well as a return to dialogue and diplomacy, the presidential administration of the Republic of Korea said.
“We condemn today’s launch of a medium-range ballistic missile by North Korea as a challenge to the UN Security Council resolutions and the demands of the international community to resolve the issue of stability, peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through diplomacy. We demand that North Korea immediately stop activities that cause instability in the region and create tension on the Korean Peninsula, observe a moratorium, and return to the path of diplomatic solutions through dialogue as soon as possible, ”the National Security Council said in a statement.
The South Korean military said it was “monitoring and controlling relevant North Korean movements and maintaining a state of readiness,” Yonhap reports.
The Japanese government has protested to the DPRK in connection with another missile launch, said Hirokazu Matsuno, Secretary General of the Japanese Cabinet of Ministers.
“Ballistic missile laun-ches violate the relevant re-solutions of the UN Secu-rity Council, in connection with which the DPRK was strongly protested. We are still figuring out the details, ”Matsuno is quoted by Reuters.
According to him, the flight time of the rocket was about 30 minutes, entry into the exclusive economic zone of Japan was not recorded.
Launch a week before the Olympics
The current rocket launch took place less than a week before the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. It is China that is the main political and economic partner of North Ko-rea, Reuters notes. Pyong-yang also said the country will miss the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and “hostile forces.”
“It looks like Kim [Jong Un – Gazeta.Ru] is stepping up tests to put pressure on Washington and Beijing over sanctions ahead of the Olympics,” Yang Wook, a South Korean researcher at the Center for Foreign Po-licy and National Security, was quoted as saying by Reuters.