North Korea launches sixth unidentified projectile in under a month
Junko Ogura, Barbara Starr and Ben Westcott, CNN
(CNN) — North Korea fired an unidentified projectile into the sea off the coast of Japan Sunday morning, the sixth launch by the Kim Jong Un regime in less than a month.
Japan’s Self Defense Force said in a statement Sunday that the missile had landed outside the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Japan’s shores.
“It is a serious issue for the whole international society including Japan that North Korea has repeatedly launched the missiles lately,” the statement said.
“We continue to put the utmost effort to collect and analyze information and vigilance to protect the life and property of Japanese citizens.”
Both South Korea and the US also acknowledged the launch but were unable to confirm what type of projectile was fired, other than that it was short-range. Japan said it was “seen to be a missile.”
The Japanese Coast Guard first warned about the launch at 6 a.m. local time Sunday (5 p.m. ET Saturday).
North Korea ramps up missile tests
After a long pause in missile testing, North Korea appears to have ramped up its program in the past month.
On March 9, three unidentified projectiles were fired by North Korea from the Sondok area on the east coast into the water between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The South Korean Defense Ministry said at the time that the launches could be “joint strike drills that include multiple types of multiple rocket launchers” as part of Pyongyang’s winter military drills.
Two weeks later, on March 21, another two projectiles were fired into the same area, this time from the northern Pyongan region.
Kim warned the United States in 2019 that it had until the end of that year to jump-start stalled denuclearization talks.
When that deadline came and went without any movement from Washington, Kim announced during a New Year’s Day message that his country would bolster its nuclear deterrent, and no longer be held to a self-imposed moratorium on major weapons testing.
Kim also pledged to show off a “new strategic weapon” in the near future.
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