North Korea conducted its largest missile test since 2017 on Sunday, sending a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile soaring into space, seen as taking the nuclear-armed country a step closer to resuming long-range testing.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that a projectile believed to be a single ballistic missile was launched about 7:52am from North Korea’s Jagang Province towards the ocean off its east coast.
South Korea’s National Security Council (NSC), which convened a rare emergency meeting presided over by President Moon Jae-in, said the test appeared to involve an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which North Korea has not tested since 2017.
The launch takes North Korea a step closer to fully scrapping a self-imposed moratorium on testing its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Moon said.
He noted that this month’s flurry of missile tests was reminiscent of the heightened tensions in 2017, when North Korea conducted multiple nuclear tests and launched its largest missiles, including some that flew over Japan.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said he is no longer bound by that moratorium, which included a stop to nuclear weapons tests and was announced in 2018 amid a flurry of diplomacy and summits with then US President Donald Trump.
North Korea’s rulers suggested this month they could restart those testing activities because the US and its allies had shown no sign of dropping their “hostile policies”.
“The US condemns these actions and calls on (North Korea) to refrain from further destabilising acts,” the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement after Sunday’s launch.

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