North Korea continues war drills, launching most powerful missile since 2017

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North Korea continues war drills, launching most powerful missile since 2017

North Korea ramped up its flurry of weapons tests on Sunday, firing the most powerful missile it has tested since 2017, when dictator Kim Jung Un unveiled a projectile that he claimed could reach the continental US.

The country’s seventh launch of the month traveled 1,242 miles into the air and landed in the sea 497 miles away, according to Japan and South Korea. The missile’s lofted trajectory was an apparent effort to avoid the airspace of its neighbors. No injuries or damage were reported.

Pyongyang’s recent aggressions appeared to be a return to its strategy of flouting military capabilities to gain leverage in stalled negotiations with the US and its Asian allies over sanctions connected to its nuclear program.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the launch may have broken North Korea’s 2018 pledge to stop testing nuclear devices and long-range ballistic missiles. It came nine days after Kim and party leaders threatened to lift the self-imposed suspension over perceived US threats.

Moon said the test violated UN Security Council resolutions and was a “challenge toward the international society’s efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, stabilize peace and find a diplomatic solution” to the nuclear impasse.

The missile test comes nine days after Kim Jong Un threatened to lift the self-imposed suspension over perceived US threats.
The missile test comes nine days after Kim Jong Un threatened to lift the self-imposed suspension over perceived US threats.
AFP via Getty Images

North Korea “should stop its actions that create tensions and pressure and respond to the dialogue offers by the international community including South Korea and the United States,” Moon said.

The South’s leader had ambitiously reached out to Kim, holding multiple summits with his northern adversary, and helping to set up a historic meeting between the dictator and former President Donald Trump in 2018.

Diplomatic progress between the US and North Korea was halted in 2019 when Trump shot down Kim’s demand for economic relief in exchange for a partial nuclear shutdown.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the launch may have broken North Korea's 2018 pledge to stop testing nuclear devices and long-range ballistic missiles.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the launch may have broken North Korea’s 2018 pledge to stop testing nuclear devices and long-range ballistic missiles.
EPA

American military leaders condemned the latest test, but said it didn’t “pose an immediate threat to US personnel, territory, or that of our allies.”

Observers said it appeared North Korea was ramping up its testing spree ahead of next week’s Beijing Winter Olympics, and was attempting to take the White House’s focus off of the escalating Russian offensive in Ukraine.

With Post wires

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