SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile off the east coast on Wednesday, just days before a new South Korean president was due to take office, South Korean officials said.

The missile took off from Sunan, near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, at 12:03 a.m. and flew 492 miles before falling into the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said. The rocket reached an altitude of 485 miles. The military gave no further details about the type of missile launched.

North Korea has been unusually busy with weapons tests in recent months and has conducted more than a dozen missile tests this year. The high frequency suggests that the leader of the north, Kim Jong-un, is trying to increase his missile and nuclear capabilities and gain diplomatic influence.

Talks with Washington have been stalled for years. And the new government of South Korea’s elected President Yoon Suk-yeol, to be inaugurated on Tuesday, is expected to take a more aggressive stance on relations with the north.

During the campaign, Mr Yoon called for stronger enforcement of sanctions against North Korea. He is expected to meet with President Biden in Seoul on May 21 to discuss how to deal with Mr Kim’s growing military threat.

In North Korea’s latest missile test on April 16, state media reports said Mr Kim oversaw the launch of a “new type of tactical guided weapon” to improve “efficiency in the use of tactical nuclear weapons.”

At a nighttime military parade last month, Mr. Kim vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal “at the fastest possible speed.” He also indicated that he was adopting a more aggressive nuclear doctrine, stating that his nuclear weapons were not only a “war deterrent” but could also be used “if any armed forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state.”

Since his diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump collapsed without an agreement in 2019, Mr. Kim has vowed to double his nuclear and missile development programs. He also resumed testing of a variety of new missiles, some of which are short-range solid-fuel ballistic missiles, which experts said were designed to deliver conventional and nuclear warheads to South Korea and Japan, as well as US military bases. in the region.

North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in March during its first long-range missile test since 2017.

Analysts have warned that more such tests are sure to come as Mr Kim works to raise tensions with Mr Yoon’s new government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.