(Update 1: Adds Japan PM comment, changes dateline, headline and lede, minor edits)
Seoul/Tokyo, Jan 11 (EFE).- North Korea on Tuesday launched another projectile in the direction of the Sea of Japan, which Seoul and Tokyo suspect to be a ballistic missile.
It came just six days after Pyongyang tested what it claimed was a new hypersonic missile.
“Our military detected a projectile presumed to be a ballistic missile launched by North Korea from inland into the East Sea around 07:27 today,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, which had earlier noted an “unidentified projectile,” said in a statement.
“The ROK (South Korea) and US intelligence agencies are conducting detailed analysis for additional information,” it added.
The Japanese Coast Guard also said an object, “potentially” a ballistic missile, had been launched from North Korea, and that it had “possibly” already dropped into the water, although without specifying where.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters it was “extremely regrettable that North Korea repeatedly launches missiles.”
“The Japanese government is stepping up its vigilance and surveillance,” he said, adding that he had instructed officials to gather and analyze information to be shared with the public.
Kishida also made mention of the fact that the launch occurred after the United Nations Security Council met Monday in New York over another test that North Korea carried out on Jan. 5.
Ahead of the UNSC meeting, the United States and allies Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Albania, issued a statement calling last week’s launch a “significant threat to regional stability” and urged North Korea to return to dialogue.
Six days ago, North Korea launched another projectile. At that time, South Korea also spoke of an “unidentified projectile” and later, like Japan, considered it a ballistic missile.
Pyongyang announced the next day that it had launched a new hypersonic missile, although Seoul considered its claims “exaggerated” and assured that, although the projectile showed some of the characteristics of a hypersonic missile, it did not fit the criteria of the two widely recognized categories.
In any case, the tactical weapons that Pyongyang has been testing since 2019, along with another that it qualified as its first hypersonic missile and that it tested in September last year (the Hwasong-8), have been difficult to detect with precision for Seoul, Tokyo and Washington when tracing non-ballistic trajectories that allow them to bypass radars and antimissile shields.
Tuesday’s launch comes 10 days after leader Kim Jong-un delivered a speech in which he stressed the need to strengthen the country’s defenses and in which he did not send a conciliatory message to Seoul or Washington.
The denuclearization dialogue between the North Koreans and the Americans has been stalled since the failed Hanoi summit nearly three years ago. EFE