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View more articles by Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham
Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham
Dagyum Ji is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. Oliver Hotham is Managing Editor of NK News.
Update at 1120 KST: You can read further details on this morning’s test here.
North Korea on Wednesday morning launched an as-yet-unidentified projectile towards the East Sea, South Korea’s military said.
In a statement, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the projectile was launched from an area north of Wonsan, Kangwon Province.
“Our military is maintaining the readiness posture while tracking and monitoring the relevant movement in preparation for additional launch,” the JCS statement added.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga was reported to have said that the projectile landed in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the coast of Shimane Prefecture, describing it as a “ballistic missile.”
Further details are expected to emerge in the next few hours.
The test is the North Korea’s ninth since July 25 and its eleventh so far this year.
The DPRK most recently tested what the country’s state media described as a launch of the country’s new Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) on September 10.
The new system has now been “finally verified in terms of combat operation, the characteristics of trajectory, accuracy and precise homing functions,” leader Kim Jong Un was reported to have said, while suggesting that more testing of the new weapon may still be required.
The timing of Wednesday’s test is notable, with the U.S. and North Korea set to hold long-stalled working-level talks over the country’s nuclear program over the weekend.
“We’ll need to wait for further details from the South Korean JCS and tomorrow’s DPRK state media coverage, but this may have been a follow-up to North Korea’s test of a new Multiple Launch Rocket System on September 10,” Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with NK News‘s sister site NK Pro.
“Recall that the DPRK media readout of that test indicated further testing was required,” she continued. “Externally it could be signaling to Washington that if the upcoming talks do not go well, the North could start looking into new options, and that those options could be militaristic.”
“Domestically, it could be as simple as North Korea’s need to finish testing its weapons before the U.S.-DPRK talks begin. Or it could be a bit more complicated, where Kim for some reason feels compelled to keep mollifying the military and the defense/munitions industry.”
The test also comes a day after South Korea’s Armed Forces day, at which the country’s President appeared alongside several recently-acquired F-35A jets.
“The North Koreans had specifically cited the ROKAF’s delivery of the F-35A as a cause for previous testing this summer,” Ankit Panda, an adjunct senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told NK News.
“It’s also a testament to the fact that the U.S. administration’s willingness to brush aside short-range missile testing has led North Korea to calculate that these kinds of tests have zero costs,” he added.
“It’s quite bold to pursue working-level talks on Friday and test a missile on Wednesday.”
Featured image: Rodong Sinmun