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North Korea fired ballistic missiles twice this week while the world watched Russia

A North Korean missile launch. (DoD/Released)
January 27, 2022

As the U.S. and the world focused on the increasing threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Thursday, and another two missiles on Tuesday.

Reuters reported the pair of missile launches on Thursday, citing a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The launches took place at around 8 a.m. local time from a launch site near Hamhung. The missiles landed in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) confirmed North Korea’s Tuesday missile launches in a Wednesday press statement. “We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” the statement said.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA agency said on Thursday that its Tuesday test included a “long-range cruise missile” and its Thursday test included a tactical-guided missile.

North Korea’s ballistic missile launches this week add to a slew of ballistic missile tests this year as North Korea resumes its pursuit of weapons.

North Korea conducted its first missile test this year on Jan. 5. Just days later, on Jan. 10, North Korea launched another missile. Six days later, North Korea fired off two more missiles.

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” INDOPACOM said of the two missiles North Korea launched on Tuesday, “the recent series of DPRK ballistic missile tests highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program.”

INDOPACOM also said the U.S.’s “commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a meeting of the Central Committee of North Korea’s sole political party, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), during which they discussed pursuing advancements in the North Korean military to sustain “a long-term confrontation with the U.S. imperialism.” During that meeting, the North Korean leader also discussed ending North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing, which it began during the period of denuclearization talks with President Donald Trump’s administration.

Yonhap reported that Noh Kyu-duk, the South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held an emergency meeting with U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim just hours after the Thursday missile launches. Noh and Kim reportedly shared their “deep concerns” over the recent series of North Korean missile tests.

“The two sides shared consensus that it is urgent to prevent the situation from aggravating and agreed to expand cooperation with related parties to resume talks with North Korea under close consultations between South Korea and the U.S.,” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, Yonhap reported.