(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea Friday afternoon, three days after the regime claimed a successful launch of a newly developed hypersonic missile.
“South Korean military detected two projectiles believed to be short-range ballistic missiles fired northeast towards the East Sea from Uiju, North Pyonganbuk-do,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters Friday.
Pyongyang has tested its missile capabilities three times this month. On Wednesday, North Korea’s state media, Korean Central News Agency, hyped the test-fire of the claimed hypersonic missile by reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the launch himself.
North Korea’s show of force took place on the same day the regime expressed discontent over new sanctions implemented by the U.S.
“If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take a stronger and certain reaction to it,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
Cheong Seong-Chang of Seoul-based Sejong Institute said these missile launches were an expression of frustration over U.S. sanctions on the regime’s mass destruction weapons and ballistic missile programs.
“Considering that North Korea has been testing new weapons at dawn or early morning, it’s reasonable to assume that North’s missile test launch this afternoon was improvised to showcase backlash against the U.S. sanctions,” he told ABC News.
Shin Beom Chul, a researcher at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy, saw the consecutive missile launches as an effort to gain more bargaining chips by North Korea.
“Considering that political dialogue is restricted due to COVID-19 at the moment, it seems North Korea intends to strengthen its nuclear capabilities in the meantime,” Shin told ABC News. “At the same time, this consecutive military provocation has more than one purpose – to neutralize the U.S. efforts with stronger sanctions and also to secure the status of a de facto nuclear powerhouse.”
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