SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – North Korea test-launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and two shorter-range weapons into the sea yesterday, South Korea said, hours after United States (US) President Joe Biden ended a trip to Asia where he reaffirmed the US commitment to defend its allies in the face of the North’s nuclear threat.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s first ICBM launch in about two months amid stalled nuclear diplomacy with the US. The latest launches suggest the North is determined to continue its efforts to modernise its weapons arsenal despite its first COVID-19 outbreak, which has caused outside worries about a humanitarian disaster.
“North Korea’s sustained provocations can only result in stronger and faster South Korea-US combined deterrence and can only deepen North Korea’s international isolation,” the South Korean government said in a statement after an emergency security meeting.
According to South Korea’s military, the three missiles lifted off from the North’s capital region one after another yesterday before they landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The flight details for the suspected ICBM were similar to those of two previous North Korean launches, which the South Korean and US militaries have said were meant to test components of the North’s biggest Hwasong-17 missile in launches that flew medium distances, not the full range. North Korea said at the time the two launches were meant to test cameras for a spy satellite.