Japan Condemns North Korea After It Conducts Fourth Missile Test in A Month

Japan Condemns North Korea After It Conducts Fourth Missile Test in A Month

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – North Korea launched two suspected ballistic missiles, in the fourth test this month, drawing condemnation from Japan and adding to pressure on the US.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday’s launch appeared to involve two short-range ballistic missiles, fired east towards the sea from the Sunan airfield in the capital Pyongyang, The Guardian reported.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno, condemned the launch.

“We strongly condemn the series of North Korean actions, including the repeated launches of ballistic missiles, that threaten the peace and security of Japan and the region, and the international community,” Matsuno said.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted three other missile tests in the space of two weeks, although none has involved long-range missiles.

North Korea has, however, demonstrated advances in its weapons technology with tests of “hypersonic missiles” capable of high speeds and manoeuvring after launch, making them harder to detect and intercept. On Friday, it fired a pair of short-range missiles from train cars.

North Korea has not fired an intercontinental ballistic missile nor has it conducted a nuclear test since 2017.

Japan’s coast guard issued a statement urging vessels traveling around the country’s coast to watch out for falling objects but no immediate damage to vessels or aircraft were reported.

On January 14, North Korea carried out its third weapons test this month involved the firing drill of a railway-borne missile.

At the time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had detected what it presumed were two short-range ballistic missiles launched eastward from North Pyongan province on the north-west coast of North Korea.

The official KCNA news agency said on Saturday that a firing drill was held to “check and judge the proficiency in the action procedures of the railway-borne regiment”, which North Korea tested for the first time last September, designed as a potential counter-strike to any threatening forces.

If Monday’s launch is confirmed, it would mark the fourth time North Korea has launched ballistic missiles since New Year’s Day, an unusually rapid pace of weapons tests.

The series of launches prompted US President Joe Biden’s administration to impose its first sanctions against Pyongyang last Wednesday, and to call on the UN Security Council to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities.

Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington have not been held since early 2019, when a summit between the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and Donald Trump ended without agreement.

Some analysts believe Kim is attempting to pressure the US into resuming negotiations that would see Washington make concessions. The US has said it is willing to talk “without preconditions” but insists it will not abandon its goal of ridding the North of its nuclear and missile capabilities.

This year’s launches come at a time when North Korea faces mounting economic problems stemming from the closure of its border with China – by far its biggest trading partner – to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

However, there are signs that North Korea is preparing to partially reopen the border for the first time since early 2020, with reports that a North Korean freight train crossed into China on Sunday.

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