North Korea fires second suspected missile
North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile, less than a week after having launched a hypersonic missile.
South Korea's military said on Tuesday that North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea, less than a week after Pyongyang reported testing a hypersonic missile.
The early-morning launch occurred as the United Nations Security Council convened in New York to discuss last week's test conducted by Pyongyang.
According to a statement from the president's office, South Korea's national security council expressed "strong regret over the launch" following an emergency meeting.
Fumio Kishida, Japan's prime minister, told reporters that it was "extremely regrettable that North Korea continues to launch missiles."
According to government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno, there were no immediate reports of damage to Japanese aircraft or vessels.
"(The suspected missile) is estimated to have flown approximately up to 700 kilometers and landed outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone," he said.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said it was fired from the land around 7:27 a.m. local time (22:27 GMT on Monday).
Pyongyang's second test in a week came after six countries, including the US and Japan, urged North Korea on Monday to stop "destabilizing actions" ahead of a UN Security Council closed-door meeting.
France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Albania have all called on North Korea to "engage in meaningful dialogue toward our shared goal of complete denuclearization." Analysts believe Pyongyang timed the latest launch to coincide with the UN meeting.
"North Korea continues testing to diversify its nuclear arsenal, but it timed the launch on the day of the UNSC meeting to maximize its political impact," Shin Beom-Chul, a researcher at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, told AFP.
According to Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha Woman's University in Seoul, the frequency of testing suggested Pyongyang was planning launches ahead of the Olympics in Beijing next month.
North Korea has been barred from competing in the Beijing Winter Olympics after skipping the pandemic-affected Tokyo Games due to concerns about Covid-19, a move Pyongyang has blamed on "hostile forces."
North Korea announced in 2021 that it had successfully tested a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile, a long-range cruise missile, a train-launched weapon, and a hypersonic warhead.
Hypersonic missiles are much faster and more agile than standard missiles, making them much more difficult to intercept by missile defense systems, on which the US is spending billions. They were listed as a "top priority" task for strategic weapons in North Korea's current five-year plan, and the first test, the Hwasong-8, was announced in September last year.
The tests come as North Korea refuses to respond to US calls for dialogue, which it dubbed as a "facade to mask their deception and hostile acts.". Last month, at a key meeting of North Korea's ruling party, Kim vowed to continue strengthening the country's defense capabilities without mentioning the US.