a North Korea South Korean President Moon Jae-in fired an alleged ballistic missile off his east coast on Wednesday, hours before he attended a ceremony to mark a railroad he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula.
North Korea’s first release since October underscores leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s pledge to intensify military power to deal with a volatile international situation amid stalled talks with South Korea and the United States .
The South Korean Board of States (JCS) said the alleged missile was fired at 8:10 a.m. local time from the mainland, off the east coast and into the sea.
Hours later, Moon visited the South Korean city of Goseong, also on the east coast and close to the northern border, where he began work on a new railroad he called “a cornerstone of regional peace and balance” in the peninsula.
Speaking at the ceremony, Moon acknowledged that the launch raises concerns about new tensions, and urged North Korea to make sincere efforts to negotiate.
“We must not give up hope of talks to radically overcome this situation,” he said. “If both Koreas work together to build trust, one day peace will be achieved.”
The apparent launch of a missile from the north highlighted the challenges facing the Moon in its campaign to reach a diplomatic success before the end of its five-year term in May.
Reconnecting the two Koreas by rail was a central issue in meetings between Kim and Moon in 2018, but the move came after talks in 2019 to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for easing international sanctions. not done.
Kim’s New Year’s speech made no mention of South Korea’s efforts to restart talks, or US proposals to talk, though analysts said that did not mean he closed the door on diplomacy. Is done.
South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting and expressed concern that the launch “came at a time when internal and external stability is of utmost importance”, and called on North Korea to return to the negotiating table.
Japan’s defense minister said the ballistic missile has covered a distance of about 500 km.
“Since last year, North Korea has repeatedly fired missiles, which is very regrettable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.