North Korea fires missile after Kim Jong Un demands weapons upgrades

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North Korea fires missile after Kim Jong Un demands weapons upgrades

North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, its first such test in about two months, according to Japan and South Korea.

The launch came after dictator Kim Jong Un pledged to boost the country’s military capacity at a political conference last week, ordering more powerful and sophisticated weapons to be built as the country applies more pressure on regional US allies to accept it as a nuclear power.

North Korea’s supreme leader continued to turn down offers from the White House to resume nuclear diplomacy talks that had collapsed in 2019 amid disagreements over how much sanction relief the US would provide if the country took limited denuclearization steps. Washington had said it would resume talks with the impoverished totalitarian country “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions.

South Korean officials said Wednesday that Pyongyang had fired a suspected ballistic missile to its east, and intelligence authorities from the US were aiding an investigation. Japanese security officials were in agreement about the nature of the stunt, which was captured by news cameras.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, attends a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Kim Jong Un had called for stronger weapons in North Korea.
AP / Korean Central News Agency

“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

It was not immediately clear where the missile landed or if it caused any damage.

Last month marked a decade since Kim rose to power following his father Kim Jong Il’s death in 2011. Residents were ordered in December not to drink alcohol, laugh or engage in leisure activities for 11 days in remembrance of the longtime leader.

With AP wires

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