North Korea fires short-range missile off its east coast, South Korea says

North Korea has launched at least one short-range missile off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, as Pyongyang turns back to weapons tests with greater frequency amid a stall in nuclear talks with the U.S.

The missile was launched around 6:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday, before splashing into the waters between Korea and Japan, said South Korea’s military, which had detected a single projectile. The precise type of weapon—including if it was a ballistic missile—and the distance flown weren’t immediately shared by South Korea’s military.

The recent launch is the third weapons test in recent weeks by the Kim Jong Un regime. It test-fired two ballistic missiles on Sept. 15, drawing immediate blowback from the U.S., Japan and others. Days earlier, North Korean state media said it had launched long-range cruise missiles.

North Korea has conducted more than 20 shorter-range weapons tests after the 2019 Vietnam summit, attended by both Mr. Kim and then-President Donald Trump, ended without a deal. Pyongyang has refrained from any long-range or nuclear tests for roughly four years.

The U.S. and North Korea haven’t held formal nuclear talks in nearly two years. The Biden administration has repeatedly offered to meet without preconditions. But the Kim regime has brushed off such outreach, with senior Pyongyang officials questioning the value of talks.

In recent days, Kim Yo Jong, the dictator’s sister, has dangled the prospect of agreeing to another inter-Korean summit if Seoul were to show Pyongyang mutual respect and impartiality.

North Korea has suffered a series of domestic challenges since the Covid-19 pandemic began. Its borders have remained shut, hurting the Kim regime’s economy. Mr. Kim has warned of food shortages.

In a Monday speech at the United Nations General Assembly, a senior Pyongyang diplomat defended the North’s weapons advances as self-defense, harboring no intentions of deploying them on the U.S., South Korea or neighboring countries. Kim Song, head of the North’s permanent mission at the U.N., reiterated an oft-repeated regime demand that the country’s missile program exists to ward off threats from the U.S. and its “hostile policy” toward the impoverished country.

The North’s weapons advances deserve credit for preventing the outbreak of a new war on the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Kim said. “It is because our state is growing (a) reliable deterrent that can control the hostile forces in their attempts for military invasion,” he said.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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