North Korea launched two suspected ballistic missiles into the sea off its eastern coast, Japanese prime minister Suga Yoshihide said on Thursday, in a launch confirmed by the South and the United States (US), which is in the midst of a review of its policy towards the reclusive state.
North Korea is banned from developing ballistic missiles under United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and the launch adds a new challenge to US president Joe Biden’s efforts to engage with Pyongyang.
Japan’s Suga said the two missiles fell into the sea outside Japanese waters.
“The first launch in just less than a year represents a threat to peace and stability in Japan and the region and violates UN resolutions,” Suga said in comments aired by Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.
Japan lodged a formal protest about the launches through its embassy in China.
The missile launch took place only days after North Korea fired suspected cruise missiles.
“With its return to testing different types of missiles, Pyongyang is flirting with the limits of what it can get away with under UN Security Council resolutions,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international relations at Ewha University in Seoul told Reuters news agency.
“The Moon government has doubled down on peace building engagement and the Biden administration is looking to complete a policy review before taking any major moves. Strategists in Tokyo worry that North Korea is taking provocative actions to undermine cooperation among Japan, South Korea and the United States. The three countries are trying to get on the same page about deterrence, sanctions and engagement.”
Following yesterday’s launches, China and Russia stressed the need for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
After a meeting with South Korean foreign minister Chung Eui-yong in Seoul, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said “all related countries need to abandon arms race and escalation of military activities of any form”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said maintaining peace and stability on the Korean peninsula was the goal of all mankind.—Al Jazeera