North Korea fired what could be a ballistic missile, Japan’s coast guard said on Sunday, in what would be the first test since the nuclear-armed country conducted a record number of launches in January.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also reported that North Korea had fired at least one “unidentified projectile” eastward, without elaborating.
Sunday’s launch came less than two weeks ahead of a pivotal presidential election in South Korea on March 9, amid fears that North Korea may push ahead with missile development while international attention is focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The leading conservative candidate, Yoon Suk-Yeol, warned last week that North Korea could see the Ukraine crisis as “an opportunity for launching its own provocation.”
North Korea’s last test was on Jan. 30, when it fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile, the largest weapon fired since 2017. That capped a record month of mostly short-range missile launches in January.
Amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States, North Korea has suggested it could resume testing its longer range missiles or even nuclear weapons.