North Korea test-fires another missile

North Korea fired what was believed to a ballistic missile on Tuesday, South Korea’s military and the Japanese coast guard said.

It was the second apparent missile launch in less than a week after the reclusive state’s leader urged more military advances.

The suspected ballistic missile launch was detected around 7:27 a.m. (2227 GMT) from an inland area of North Korea toward the ocean off its east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The projectile appeared to have landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the Kyodo news agency reported, citing government sources in Tokyo.

“That North Korea continues to launch missiles is extremely regrettable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Tuesday’s apparent launch came a day after the United States mission to the United Nations, joined by France, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom and Albania, issued a joint statement condemning last week’s hypersonic missile test.

“These actions increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation and pose a significant threat to regional stability,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in the statement on Monday.

Such tests not only improve the North’s capabilities, but expands what it can offer illicit arms clients and dealers around the world, she added.

“(North Korea) makes these military investments at the expense of the well-being of the North Korean people,” she said.

The launches by nuclear-armed North Korea underscored leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s vow to bolster the military to counter an unstable international situation amid stalled talks with South Korea and the United States.

North Korea is attempting to use repeated tests to normalise its missile capabilities, portraying itself as a country engaged in incremental improvements for self-defense, said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Seoul’s Ewha University.

“At the same time, Pyongyang is challenging international sanctions, testing what it can get away with while the United Nations Security Council remains divided,” he said.

U.N. Security Council resolutions ban all ballistic missile and nuclear tests by North Korea, and have imposed sanctions over the programmes.

However, China and Russia are pushing the U.N. Security Council to ease sanctions on North Korea by removing a ban on Pyongyang’s exports of statues, seafood and textiles, and lifting a refined petroleum imports cap.

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