ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
N Korea at crossroads

North Korea fires 2 suspected ballistic missiles into sea

South Korean and Russian foreign ministers condemn move as Kim 'flirts with limits'

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on March 5, 2021 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea on Thursday morning, South Korea's military said, while Japan's government said it suspected the weapons were ballistic missiles.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that intelligence authorities in South Korea and the U.S. are thoroughly analyzing the projectiles, fired from northeastern North Korea into the Sea of Japan. The Joint Chiefs had yet to determine whether they were indeed ballistic missiles -- weapons that are initially rocket-propelled and guided but free-fall toward their targets -- which Pyongyang is prohibited from firing under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

The presidential Blue house held an emergency National Security Council meeting on Thursday morning and expressed concern, but stopped short of confirming the nature of the missiles.

"Our government expressed deep worries over North Korea's firing of projectiles suspected of being ballistic missiles," South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong told reporters after a meeting with his visiting Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. "We are making various efforts toward the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Lavrov joined Chung in condemning the move but widened the scope to include other regional players. "All related countries should stop competition for arms as well as all kinds of military actions," Lavrov said.

If the North indeed tested ballistic missiles, they would be the first since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January. The Kim Jong Un regime reportedly fired short-range missiles last weekend -- a provocation the Biden administration downplayed as it seeks dialogue with Pyongyang.

A Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman said Thursday's projectiles did not fall within Japan's territory or exclusive economic zone.

The Joint Chiefs said that South Korean forces had raised their level of monitoring and defense, while cooperating with the U.S. closely. "We are prepared for anything," they said in a text message to reporters.

Pyongyang's action comes a week after the U.S. secretaries of state and defense met with their South Korean counterparts in Seoul. In a news conference after the meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanded that China use its influence in North Korea to push the country toward denuclearization.

Experts say North Korea is testing the Biden administration, gauging how much Washington will tolerate.

"With its return to testing different types of missiles, Pyongyang is flirting with the limits of what it can get away with under U.N. Security Council resolutions," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. "It is also challenging the 2018 Inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement, which it has threatened to scrap."

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more