February 1, 2023
North Korea launches ballistic missile ahead of South Korean elections

North Korea launches ballistic missile ahead of South Korean elections

North Korea on Saturday allegedly launched a ballistic missile, in a new weapons test in a series of missile launches since the start of the year, just days before South Korea’s presidential election.

The South Korean armed forces said they had detected an “alleged ballistic missile fired towards the East Sea from the Sunan region (in North Korea).”

In a statement, South Korea’s National Security Council condemned the “unprecedented and continuous launch of ballistic missiles” by North Korea, and called for peace on the Korean peninsula.

The statement said South Korea would “closely monitor North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities, such as Yongbun and Ponggye-ri.”

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kiichi also confirmed the launch of the missile and stated that the missile flew at a maximum altitude of 550 km covering 300 km.

Pyongyang conducted seven weapons tests in January, an unprecedented number, including the most powerful missile since 2017, when leader Kim Jong Un mocked the then-President of the United States, Donald Trumpwith a series of versions.

Since then, diplomacy has stalled, and despite tough international sanctions, Pyongyang is insisting on bolstering its military capability.

In January, North Korea threatened to abandon its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range weapons tests.

It also said on Monday it had conducted a “significant” test to develop a reconnaissance satellite, a day after Seoul revealed it had detected a ballistic missile launch.

South Korean elections

North Korea’s latest test comes at a sensitive time for the region, as the south prepares for next Wednesday’s presidential election, which will determine Moon Jae-in’s successor.

One of the candidates, former President Yoon Seok-yeol of the People’s Power Party, threatened to order preemptive strikes against the northern neighbor if the need arose.

“Kim seems to feel that Moon hasn’t done much since the collapse of the Hanoi summit,” said analyst Ahn Chan-il, a professor of North Korean studies, referring to the failed Kim-Trump meeting.

Analysts have indicated that Pyongyang will seek to take advantage of the US government’s distraction from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to conduct more tests.

North Korea accused the United States in February of being “the root cause of the Ukraine crisis,” noting in a statement that Washington “interferes” in the internal affairs of other countries when appropriate, while condemning legitimate “measures” of self-defense. from others.

“North Korea seems to be saying that it is different from Ukraine and reminding the world that it has its own nuclear weapons system,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

President’s government Joe Biden They expressed their willingness to meet with representatives of North Korea, an offer that Pyongyang ignored.

Analysts believe North Korea may use its upcoming holiday, which will mark the 110th birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, to stage a major weapons test.

Recent satellite images analyzed by the specialist website 38 North indicate that the country could prepare for a military parade to display its weapons as part of the celebration.