North Korea has conducted a ballistic missile test which it said would help launch new reconnaissance satellites into orbit. Japanese and South Korea officials announced the launch early Sunday, saying the munition traveled 190 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan.
While the Joe Biden administration condemned the test, it has largely ignored the Korean nuclear file since coming to power and has done little to advance diplomacy on the peninsula. Late in 2021, South Korean President Moon Jae-in attempted to broker an official end to the Korean War, which was never terminated with a formal armistice or treaty. It does not appear his effort will be successful before the end of his term next month, however.
The latest missile test follows a call on Saturday between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. A North Korean readout of the call said the two nations agreed to strengthen bilateral ties under “a new situation,” though gave no indication of what that could mean.
“In the new situation, the Chinese side, together with the Korean side, will promote the continuous development of the friendly and cooperative Sino-DPRK relationship,” the readout said, calling to promote “peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region.”
The missile test and North Korean announcement come soon after the conclusion of the Chinese-hosted Olympics in Beijing. After conducting a flurry of seven tests in January, Sunday’s launch was Pyongyang’s first since the start of the games.