North Korea fires more rockets in latest challenge to Biden.

North Korea has conducted its second significant weapons test in the past week, raising one of the first big foreign policy challenges for President Joe Biden and US allies.

The North Korean military fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the waters off its eastern coastline on Thursday morning.

The missiles flew about 450km and reached an altitude of 60km before crashing into the sea outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to statements from Seoul and Tokyo.

No further details of the weapons technology tested were immediately available.

The rockets were launched just days after North Korea fired two cruise missiles in the first known military provocation by the authoritarian regime since Mr Biden’s inauguration in January.

Capt Mike Kafka, spokesman for US Indo-Pacific Command, said the Pentagon was monitoring the situation. “This activity highlights the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons programme poses to its neighbours and the international community,” he said.

US officials had played down Sunday’s cruise missile tests, saying they did not breach UN resolutions – which bar ballistic missile launches – and were at the lower end of the range of North Korea’s normal provocations.

Speaking about the weekend launches, one US official said it was “common” for North Korea to conduct tests and that the US believed it was “not in our best interest to hype these kinds of things”.

The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment about Thursday’s test.

Sanctions

The Biden administration is completing a review to determine its North Korea policy while Pyongyang has rebuffed American efforts to engage.

Under former president Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un continued to rapidly develop nuclear weapons technology while Washington insisted that loosening sanctions was contingent on concrete steps by Pyongyang to denuclearise.

Despite three face-to-face meetings between Mr Trump and the North Korean dictator, talks broke down after Mr Kim refused to accept US demands.

Soo Kim, a former CIA North Korea analyst now at the Rand Corporation, a think-tank, said the Biden administration’s refusal to make an explicit comment about its Pyongyang policy might have motivated Kim to “reassert North Korea’s relevance”.

“But the fact that the [first] missile test was dismissed and the antics shut down immediately may send Kim the message that the Trump days are for sure over. Beyond the ‘no more summits’ position, we’re probably talking a more measured, calibrated stance from Washington,” she said.

But “Kim also is aware that the US can’t ignore and dismiss North Korean provocations forever,” she added.

Jessica Lee, a researcher with the Quincy Institute, a think-tank, said the longer Mr Kim and Mr Biden both placed unrealistic conditions for returning to talks, the higher the chances were that military provocations such as missile tests could flare into war.

“Countries cannot effectively communicate by ballistic missile tests, yet here we are,” she said.

The weapons tests also came against the backdrop of rising international concern over a humanitarian disaster unfolding in North Korea. Human rights groups have warned of a severe economic crisis and food shortages stemming from border closures because of coronavirus, sanctions, typhoon damage and Kim’s economic policies.

Seoul, which has also pushed for re-engagement with Pyongyang, has urged the international community to ease sanctions and boost aid for North Koreans. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Related news
Ancient Sea Turtles Suffer Staggering Population Loss.

Ancient Sea Turtles Suffer Staggering Population Loss.

Humans to blame for dwindling populations of sea turtle species tens of millions of years old, scientists say

ISIS seeks new foothold with militant Islamists in Africa, report says.

ISIS seeks new foothold with militant Islamists in Africa, report says.

After suffering defeats in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State is attempting to resurrect itself in Africa. New York Times reporter Christina Goldbaum joins CBSN's Lana Zak with more on how the terrorist group is forging ties with homegrown militant...

'Michigan needs to be shut down': Doctor on Covid-19 surge.

'Michigan needs to be shut down': Doctor on Covid-19 surge.

CNN's Jim Acosta talks with Dr. Jonathan Reiner of George Washington University about the coronavirus surge Michigan is experiencing, and Texas governor Greg Abbott's claim that, despite admittedly not knowing what herd immunity is, Texas is close...

Father Honors Son With Emotional Military Salute - NBC Nightly News.

Father Honors Son With Emotional Military Salute - NBC Nightly News.

When Second Lt. Michael Fisher was promoted in the U.S. Marine Corps last month, the ceremony was made even more special when his father, a master sergeant, honored him with the first salute. The moment captured on video reached over 5 million vie...

1 78

Shocking Footage Shows Army Lt. Pepper-Sprayed During Traffic Stop - NBC Nightly News

Shocking Footage Shows Army Lt. Pepper-Sprayed During Traffic Stop - NBC Nightly News

Army Lt. Caron Nazario was dressed in uniform when he was pulled over by two Virginia police officers in December. The encounter escalated when the officers told him to get out of the car. When Nazario told them he was afraid to get out of the car...

Congressman Opens Up About Post-Traumatic Stress After Jan.

Congressman Opens Up About Post-Traumatic Stress After Jan.

NBC News’ Hallie Jackson sat down with Rep. Dan Kildee, who took that familiar photo of officers with their guns drawn in the House chamber, for an exclusive interview where he opens up about his mental health struggles since the Jan. 6 attack on ...