The Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday that North Korea’s military launched a ballistic missile, the most recent in several tests since the beginning of the year.
The military’s statement followed news releases earlier on Wednesday by both Japanese and South Korean leaders regarding the missile launch.
“We are aware of the [North Korea’s] ballistic missile launch today and are consulting closely with [South Korea] and Japan, as well as other regional allies and partners,” U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from further destabilizing acts. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory, or that of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the ROK and Japan, remains ironclad,” the statement added.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also condemned the latest military action.
“North Korea’s series of actions that threatens the peace, safety and stability of the international community are impermissible,” Kishida told reporters during his visit to Rome, according to the Associated Press.
“Naturally, we will exchange views on the regional situation in the Indo-Pacific and East Asia, and I will thoroughly explain the reality of the region including the North Korean missile launch today, to gain understanding about the pressing situation in the East Asia,” he added.
According to the AP report, South Korea’s military said the missile flew about 290 miles, while Oniki of Japan claimed the missile traveled about 500 kilometers (310 miles) at the maximum altitude of 800 kilometers (500 miles).
North Korea has conducted more than a dozen missile tests in 2022, a growing pace that has alarmed security experts. U.S. military leaders also believe that recent so-called satellite test launches conducted by North Korea were veiled tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile system.
The Daily Wire reported in March that Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that U.S. intelligence officials working with officials in Japan and South Korea have determined that recent North Korea missile launches were part of a “serious escalation” of weapons testing by Pyongyang. The DPKR, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, claimed that the missile launches were tests of a new satellite.
“Based on analysis of these launches, the United States government has concluded that these launches involved a new ICBM system that the DPRK is developing,” Kirby said, according to The Guardian. “This is a serious escalation by the DPRK.”
The most recent launch’s timing is also just ahead of the inauguration of South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol on May 10. The new leader ran on a conservative platform that vowed to take a stronger approach to dealing with its northern neighbor.
The missile tests violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions, though North Korea has often ignored such efforts to slow its missile development capabilities.
The Wall Street Journal also noted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “has also begun repairs and restoration work at its main nuclear-test site. In recent weeks, U.S. and South Korean officials have expressed growing concern that the Kim regime could conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.”