North Korea fires two ballistic missiles off east coast, says South Korea

Kim Jong Un
Kim Jong Un

The North’s resumption of testing activity is likely an attempt at pressuring the Biden administration

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North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, two days after the North claimed to have tested a new missile in its first weapons test in six months.

The two ballistic missiles launched from a site in central North Korea flew toward the waters of the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Wednesday afternoon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The statement said South Korean and US intelligence authorities were analysing more details about the launches.

Japan’s coast guard confirmed the objects landed outside the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. No ships or aircraft reported damage, the Coast Guard said.

The North’s resumption of testing activity is likely an attempt at pressuring the Biden administration over the diplomatic freeze after its leader Kim Jong Un failed to leverage his arsenal for economic benefits during the presidency of Donald Trump.

North Korea ended a year-long pause in ballistic tests in March by firing two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, continuing a tradition of testing new US administrations with weapons demonstrations aimed at measuring Washington’s response and gaining concessions.

On Monday, North Korea said it had tested a newly-developed cruise missile twice over the weekend. North Korea’s state media described the missile as a “strategic weapon of great significance”, implying they were developed with the intent to arm them with nuclear warheads.

Talks between the US and North Korea have stalled since 2019, when the Americans rejected the North’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility.

Mr Kim’s government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overtures for dialogue, demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.