Missile launch in Japanese sea, US accused in Ukraine

North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Sunday, the eighth day of this year, as international attention is focused on Ukraine after the one-month stagnation of the Beijing Olympics.

The South Korean army said in a statement that it “detected a ballistic missile launched toward the East Sea (Sea of ​​Japan).” She added that the projectile launched on Saturday at 2252 GMT from the Sunan area near Pyongyang traveled about 300 km at a maximum altitude of 620 km.

The South Korean president expressed “deep concern” at the launch “when the world is trying to stop the war in Ukraine.”

In January, North Korea launched a record number of seven missiles in a month, including the most powerful missile since 2017, amid stagnant negotiations with the United States. The administration has also warned that it could drop a voluntary moratorium on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and nuclear tests.

North Korea has refrained from testing any weapons during the Beijing Winter Olympics, perhaps in order to respect its neighbor and ally China. However, as the international community focused on the war in Ukraine, many analysts expected Pyongyang to take advantage of the opportunity to resume firing.

“They are restarting the machine,” Shin Bom-chul, a researcher at the Institute for Economic and Social Research, told AFP.

Analysts said, “During the Beijing Games, we refrained from provoking to manage relations with China, but the crisis in Ukraine turned US interests into Europe and the Security Council turned out to be non-functional. I did. ” Said.

United States in charge of Ukraine

On Saturday, North Korea held responsibility for the war in Ukraine in the first official reaction to Russia’s invasion. A message posted on the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs website said, “The root cause of the Ukrainian crisis is US authoritarianism and arbitrariness.”

“North Korea did not intend to sit still and please anyone while the rest of the world was dealing with Russia’s attack on Ukraine,” said Leif Eric Eisley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. rice field.

North Korea’s economy is suffering from international sanctions, and due to the strict isolation that the country imposes on itself to protect itself from pandemics, “the strength and legitimacy of the Jin dynasty administration is now a better missile test. It depends, “he added.

This new show of force from Pyongyang comes when South Korea is preparing to elect the next president on March 9.

President Moon Jae-in has repeatedly warned that if North Korea resumes intercontinental missile launches and nuclear tests, it could enter the crisis five years ago at any time.

Soon a big military parade

Analysts believe that North Korea can use April 15, the most important date on its political calendar, to carry out major weapons tests. This day is the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of Kim Jong Un, the founder and current leader of North Korea (this year is 110 years).

Recent satellite images suggest that the North Korean administration is preparing a large military parade to show off its weapons on that occasion. However, Park Won-gon, a professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University, said, “North Korea is the last card to put pressure on the United States, so we need to be careful about launching the ICBM.”

Since the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January 2021, Pyongyang has rejected various dialogue proposals made by Washington. And Kim Jong Un reaffirmed in December that his priority was to modernize the country’s arsenal.

North Korea threatened to force a resumption of nuclear or missile tests on January 20 by US “hostile” policies. And ten days later, Pyongyang launched a medium- and long-range surface-to-ground ballistic missile on Mars 12. This is the most powerful projectile I have tested since 2017.

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