North Korea conducted its largest missile test since 2017 on 30 January, It said the ballistic missile was an intermediate range Hwasong 12, seen as taking the nuclear-armed country a step closer to resuming long-range testing.
Both Japan and South Korea confirmed that North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile into waters off its east coast on January 30, its seventh nuclear weapons test this month alone.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said a ballistic missile appeared to have been launched at about 7:52 am (local time) from Jagang province – North Korea off the east coast of the country.
According to Reuters news agency, the Japanese government also said North Korea likely launched a ballistic missile. Jagang province was the site of two hypersonic missile launches earlier this month, which can achieve high speeds in flight and maneuver at relatively low altitudes. After the January 30 launch, January 2022 could become the month with the most rocket launches ever by North Korea.
Analysts say North Korea’s missile program is expanding and developing new capabilities despite strict sanctions on Ballistic missile development by the UN.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said: “The ballistic missile launch and previous launches pose a threat to our country, the region, and the international community. The series of launches violate United Nations resolutions and we strongly oppose North Korea’s actions.”
Mr. Matsuno said that if it is a standard ballistic missile, it is estimated that it can reach an altitude of 2,000 km, fly for 30 minutes and reach a distance of 800 km.
In his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for strengthening the military with advanced technology at a time when negotiations with South Korea and the United States have stalled. Since then, North Korea has conducted a series of launches with increasing diversity in weapon types, launch sites and increasing sophistication.
The North Korean government considers the launches a right to defend its sovereignty and says they are not aimed at any specific country, but accuses Washington and Seoul of hostile policies towards North Korea.