DPRK Reportedly Fires Two Presumed Ballistic Missiles into Sea of Japan
23:13 GMT 26.01.2022 (Updated: 13:37 GMT 18.09.2023)
© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joonA man watches a TV screen showing an image of North Korea's ballistic missile launched from a submarine during a news program at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021
© AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff reported detecting a weapons launch off the North Korean coast on Thursday morning, which would be the socialist state's sixth missile test this month.
The South Korean military leadership notified reporters of the launch of two unidentified projectile via text message, according to Yonhap News Agency. Later, they said the projectiles were presumed to be ballistic missiles.
The projectile fell outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, Kyodo reported, citing a government source.
The launches began after the end of the fourth plenary session of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of North Korea, which concluded on December 31. However, the prevailing theme of the meeting was improving domestic quality of life amid what WPK chairman Kim Jong Un called a "great life-and-death struggle."
The DPRK has been at war with South Korea and the US since 1950, since a permanent peace treaty never formally concluded the Korean War, only a ceasefire that stopped the fighting in 1953 remains in effect. As a consequence, the US has maintained a 28,500-strong garrison in South Korea, which Pyongyang has said is an obstacle to peace and poses a threat to the DPRK.
According to Pyongyang, its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons systems are necessary in order to guarantee its security in the absence of a permanent peace treaty and US withdrawal from the Korean peninsula. It has strongly objected to military drills between the US and South Korea, which rehearse joint operations against the DPRK. Upcoming drills scheduled for March are expected to be postponed until April due to presidential elections in South Korea on March 9.
Talks on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula made progress in 2018 and 2019 before collapsing, as Pyongyang refused to take further action against its programs without some kind of sanctions relief from the US, and Washington refused to remove any economic sanctions against the DPRK without first seeing "verifiable" and irreversible denuclearization on the DPRK's part. Relations have considerably soured since, and new sanctions from Washington followed recent missile tests by the DPRK, which it said violated UN resolutions.