North Korea has conducted a ballistic missile test, its neighbors Japan and South Korea reported Tuesday, as officials of both countries held talks with the United States in Seoul.
In an alert, South Korea’s military reported the North launched a single ballistic missile from the Sinpo area of South Hamgyong Province at about 10:17 a.m. local time.
The Japanese coast guard also detected the launch, saying it may have involved a ballistic missile. No other details were immediately available, such as the range or type of missile fired.
Since it resumed major weapons tests in 2019, North Korea has regularly launched ballistic missiles and other weapons. Most of those tests have involved short-range systems, and most have been launched in pairs.
The test of a single missile could indicate that North Korea has either tested a larger weapon or one that involves new capabilities, some defense analysts say.
“Onesies [single launches] aren’t necessarily bigger. Just things we really don’t like,” said Vipin Narang, a nuclear and defense specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The missile was reportedly launched from Sinpo, the site of North Korea’s submarine base, where the country has conducted past tests involving submarine-launched ballistic missile technology.
North Korea is banned from any ballistic missile activity — short or long-range — by a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The test comes as the intelligence chiefs of the United States, Japan, and South Korea meet in Seoul, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
South Korea and the United States have repeatedly offered to resume talks with North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in order to reduce tensions and make progress on denuclearization.
“To reach this objective, we will seek diplomacy with the DPRK to make tangible progress that increases the security of the United States and our allies. This includes considering potential engagement with the DPRK to reduce tensions,” Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, said late Monday.
“The U.S. continues to reach out to Pyongyang to restart dialogue. Our intent remains the same. We harbor no hostile intent towards the DPRK, and we are open to meeting with them without preconditions,” he said.
In a speech last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rejected those offers.
“Recently, the United States has frequently sent signals that it is not hostile to our state, but its behaviors provide us with no reason why we should believe them,” Kim said, according to state media.
In recent weeks, North Korea has released statements objecting both to U.S.-South Korea military exercises, as well as the U.S. military presence in Korea and the wider region.
“North Korea is trying to coerce the world into accepting its violations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions as if they are normal acts of self-defense,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. “This is part of the Kim regime’s efforts to achieve de facto international recognition as a nuclear power and receive concessions just for resuming contact.”