North Korea fired at least one unidentified projectile toward its eastern sea on Saturday, South Korea’s military said, in its second launch this week, apparently continuing a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations that may culminate with a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t immediately say whether the projectile was ballistic or how far it flew. The launch came three days after South Korea and Japan’s militaries detected the North firing a suspected ballistic missile from near its capital, Pyongyang, on Wednesday, and three days before the inauguration of South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who has vowed to take a tougher approach over the North’s nuclear ambitions.
The latest launch was likely North Korea’s 15th round of missile firings this year, an unusually fast pace that experts say underscores a brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions. There are also signs that the North is restoring tunnels at a nuclear testing ground that was last active in 2017 in possible preparations for a nuclear explosive test.