North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast on Sunday in its first ballistic missile test in nearly four months, the South Korean military said.
The missile test came days after the United States aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan arrived at Busan, a port on the southeast of South Korea, on Friday to participate in a joint exercise with the South Korean military. The North has traditionally conducted military exercises, including weapons tests, to counter joint drills by South Korea and the United States, which it has called rehearsals for invasion.
The missile was fired from Taechon in North Korea’s northwest at 6:53 a.m., South Korean defense officials said. They said they were analyzing the data to learn more about the test.
This was North Korea’s first ballistic missile test since June 5, when it launched a volley of eight short-range ballistic missiles. The country has conducted 17 weapons tests this year that involved ballistic missiles, as well as two that involved cruise missiles. In the last such test, on Aug. 17, North Korea launched two cruise missiles.
A number of United Nations resolutions ban North Korea from developing and testing ballistic missiles, as well as nuclear weapons. But the country has said it is a sovereign state and that it has the right to develop and import and export weapons.
Talks between the United States and North Korea have broken down without an agreement on how to roll back the North’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Since his diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump collapsed in 2019, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has shown little interest in giving up his nuclear arsenal, instead vowing to expand it.
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea has offered the North economic incentives to take steps toward eradicating its nuclear arsenal. North Korea has called the proposal “repulsive” and has vowed not to negotiate away its nuclear weapons.
South Korean and American officials have warned for months that North Korea is ready to restart its nuclear tests in an underground testing site at the country’s northeastern corner.