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North Korea fires second suspected ballistic missile in less than a week

North Korea on Tuesday launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile more capable than the “hypersonic missile” it launched less than a week ago, South Korea’s military.

The early-morning launch came as the UN Security Council finished discussions in New York on how to respond to Pyongyang’s reported testing of a suspected hypersonic weapon last week.

“Our military detected a suspected ballistic missile fired by North Korea from land towards the East Sea at around 7:27 a.m. today,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Initial estimates found that the missile traveled more than 700 km (435 miles) to a maximum altitude of 60 km at a top speed up to 10 times the speed of sound (12,348 kmh/7,673 mph), the JCS said.

“We assess that this is more advanced than the missile North Korea fired on January 5,” it added.

The South’s National Security Council (NSC) held an emergency meeting and expressed “strong regret” over the latest missile test.

“Members of the NSC urged North Korea to swiftly respond to the international community’s expectations for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and agree to resume dialogue and cooperation,” the presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Tuesday’s projectile appeared to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), according to Japanese media.

“That North Korea continues to launch missiles is extremely regrettable,” Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said.

6 countries condemn last week’s test

The United States, joined by France, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Albania, issued a joint statement on Monday, ahead of the UN Security Council closed-door meeting, urging North Korea to cease “destabilizing actions.”

“These actions increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation and pose a significant threat to regional stability,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in the statement.

The six countries called on Pyongyang “to refrain from further destabilizing actions… and engage in meaningful dialogue towards our shared goal of complete denuclearization.”

North’s leader urges military advances

The January 5 launch came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to bolster the country’s military forces.

The missile tests are seen as attempts to counter an unstable international situation amid stalled talks with South Korea and the United States.

Talks between Washington and Pyongyang have remained stalled since a failed summit between Kim and then US President Donald Trump in 2019.

The US, under the current President Joe Biden, has since declared a willingness for dialogue, while saying it will seek “denuclearization.”

Pyongyang has rejected the offer saying it is open to talks only if Washington and others cease “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military exercises in the region.

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