Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets reporters following a report on North Korea’s firing of an unidentified projectile, at his official residence in Tokyo. North Korea fired a suspected missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, the South Korean and Japanese militaries said, the first such launch in about two months amid long-dormant international diplomacy on the North’s nuclear program. (File photo by The Associated Press)

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets reporters following a report on North Korea’s firing of an unidentified projectile, at his official residence in Tokyo. North Korea fired a suspected missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, the South Korean and Japanese militaries said, the first such launch in about two months amid long-dormant international diplomacy on the North’s nuclear program. (File photo by The Associated Press)

North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile into sea

North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile into sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea on Wednesday, the South Korean and Japanese militaries said, its first public weapons launch in about two months and a signal that Pyongyang isn’t interested in rejoining denuclearization talks anytime soon and would rather focus on boosting its weapons arsenal.

The latest launch came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to further boost his military capability — without disclosing any new policies toward the United States or South Korea— at a high-profile ruling party conference last week.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday morning. It said South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were trying to analyze more information about the launch.

In an emergency video conference, members of South Korea’s presidential national security team expressed concerns about the launch and said resuming talks with North Korea is important to resolve tensions, according to the presidential Blue House.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also detected the North Korean launch, saying the country likely fired a missile.

“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Kishida said other details about the North Korean launch weren’t immediately available, including where the suspected missile landed and whether there had been any damage. He said he ordered officials to confirm the safety of ships and planes in the area where the suspected missile likely flew and fell.

Between September and November, North Korea performed a spate of weapons tests in what experts called an attempt to apply more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power state in the hopes of winning relief from economic sanctions. The weapons tested included a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a developmental hypersonic missile. Since its artillery firing drills in early November, North Korea had halted testing activities until Wednesday’s launch.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions. The North has so far rebuffed such overtures, saying U.S. hostility remains unchanged.

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