Neighbors say N Korea has dropped potential missiles at sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea on Tuesday fired what appeared to be a missile on its east coast, its second weapons were launched a week ago, South Korean and Japanese troops said.

The launch of this month follows a series of weapons tests in 2021 that confirmed how North Korea continues to expand its military capabilities in the midst of the epidemic that led to self-imposed sanctions and the end of nuclear talks with the United States.

South Korean Armed Forces officials say the North fired one missile early Tuesday but did not immediately say whether it was a missile or how far it had flown. The Office of the Prime Minister of Japan and the Ministry of Defense said the North Korean weapon was probably a missile, but did not elaborate.

The Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense Office said it was monitoring North Korean reports but no threat was reported in Guam, a major US military base in the Pacific.

The most recent launch took place six days north of a ballistic missile launch in the sea that was later described as the most successful test of hypersonic missiles, the kind of weapon that North Korea said was first tested in September.

The test came a few days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a political rally vowed to strengthen his troops despite the challenges of the epidemic.

US-led talks on the North Korean nuclear program have been suspended since 2019 due to disputes over North Korean sanctions. The Biden government has repeatedly called for the resumption of nuclear talks “anywhere and anytime” without conditions, but North Korea has said the US must first eliminate its hostility before the talks begin.

Nuclear weapons in the north are at the forefront of Kim’s regime and what he considers to be a strong guarantee of survival. During his ten-year reign, he tested several weapons to launch nuclear weapons in the United States.

But his country’s economy has deteriorated in the last two years as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, US-led sanctions for its nuclear ambitions and the failure of its government.

__ The Secretary of the Associated Press Fund for Tokyo sponsored this article.

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