North Korea test launches ballistic missile in 1st provocation of 2022
Tokyo — Japan and South Korea said on Wednesday that North Korea had launched a suspected ballistic missile that landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone. The U.S. military's Indo-Pacific Command said in a brief statement that it was "aware of the ballistic missile launch" and was consulting closely with allies and partners in the region.
"While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the ballistic missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's [North Korea's] illicit weapons program," the statement said. "The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of [South] Korea and Japan remains ironclad."
A State Department spokesperson told CBS News on Wednesday that the U.S. condemned the launch, which it said was "in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK's neighbors and the international community."
The launch was the first such provocation since Kim Jong Un's regime fired a submarine-launched missile in October.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Japan was still analyzing the launch, but he noted that, "since last year, North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles, which is very regrettable."
North Korea's ruler Kim recently marked the 10th year of his regime, and he has promised to double down on military development, citing increasing instability on the Korean peninsula. Already his government is spending about a quarter of North Korea's gross domestic product on arms, proportionally more than any other country on Earth.
Kim has shifted North Korea's weapons testing into overdrive since 2019, including missile launches from a train and a submarine. Last autumn the isolated totalitarian state announced tests of a new long-range cruise missile, capable of hitting much of Japan.
The regime's work on even more advanced rockets, including harder-to-intercept, trajectory-shifting hypersonic glide missiles, have caused particular alarm in Tokyo.
Japan's so-called "peace constitution," written in the wake of its defeat in World War II, restricts its armed forces to self-defense only. But as North Korea accelerates its weapons development, Japan has announced that it's considering a fundamental shift in its governing document that would grant its military the ability to strike enemy targets, including missile sites.
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