Pentagon: North Korea Testing Intercontinental Missile System In ‘Serious Escalation’
People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on March 5, 2022, after North Korea fired at least one "unidentified projectile" in the country's ninth suspected weapons test this year according to the South's military. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

The United States believes that recent so-called satellite test launches conducted by North Korea were veiled tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile system.

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said that U.S. intelligence officials working with officials in Japan and South Korea have determined that recent North Korea missile launches were part of a “serious escalation” of weapons testing by Pyongyang. The DPKR, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, claimed that the missile launches were tests of a new satellite.

“Based on analysis of these launches, the United States government has concluded that these launches involved a new ICBM system that the DPRK is developing,” Kirby said, according to The Guardian. “This is a serious escalation by the DPRK.”

“The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate ICBM range, was likely to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” Kirby said.

The most recent missile test took place earlier this month and involved an unidentified projectile being fired into the Sea of Japan. Japan’s defense ministry said at the time that it suspected that the launch had to do with ballistic missile testing.

Japan’s defense ministry condemned the tests in a statement Friday: “North Korea’s recent actions, including these missile launches that make the situation more tense, threaten the peace and security of our country, region and the international community and are totally unacceptable.”

North Korea is on an unprecedented pace of weapons testing in 2022. As The Daily Wire reported:

The launch continues North Korea’s 2022 weapons testing spree less than a week after its last test on February 27. North Korea is on an “unprecedented pace” of weapons testing this year, according to The Japan Times. Pyongyang oversaw more weapons testing in January than in all of 2021.

The South Korean military said that the projectile was launched from the Sunan area of Pyongyang at just before 9 a.m. The projectile sailed into the waters of the Sea of Japan. The projectile landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which extends out from Japan 200 nautical miles, according to the Times.

North Korea’s last weapons test was the launch of a reconnaissance satellite into space. Experts suspect that the launch was a veiled attempt at testing out long-range missile technology, which closely resembles the tech used in such satellite launches, according to Bloomberg.

The increase in apparent weapons testing comes during a two-year pause in negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang over the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Talks stalled in 2019 after disagreements over the release of heavy economic sanctions the U.S. has leveraged against North Korea. The Biden administration has offered an unconditional restart to diplomatic discussions, but the North Korean regime has so far refused to negotiate.

The DPKR’s latest round of missile tests threatens to complicate the already tenuous foreign policy position of the United States as the Biden administration attempts to slow the war between Russia and Ukraine and renegotiate former President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal over concerns that oversight of Iran’s nuclear program was not strong enough to prevent Iran from constructing a nuclear weapon.

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