Update (Jan. 13, 2022): A week after North Korea held its first ballistic missile launch since last October, the Treasury Department announced Wednesday it is sanctioning five North Korean officials. The individuals are “responsible for procuring goods for the DPRK’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and ballistic missile-related programs,” according to the department.
The sanctions came just hours after North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful flight test of a hypersonic missile Tuesday. He claimed the launch would greatly increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrent.”
“The DPRK’s latest missile launches are further evidence that it continues to advance prohibited programs despite the international community’s calls for diplomacy and denuclearization,” Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said in a Wednesday news release. The department add “the United States remains committed to seeking dialogue and diplomacy” with North Korea, “but will continue to address the threat posed by the DPRK’s unlawful weapons programs to the United States and the international community.”
Original Story (Jan. 5, 2022): United States officials confirmed Wednesday that North Korea has fired another ballistic missile. This marked the first such launch of the new year, with the last one happening back in October.
“We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Wednesday. “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 illicit weapons program.”
A State Department spokesperson added, “this launch is in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbors and the international community.”
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the ballistic missile launch took place at 8:10 a.m. local time in the Jagang Province on North Korea’s northern border with China. That’s the same province where North Korea tested its first hypersonic missile back in September.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the suspected ballistic missile flew about 310 miles. It was presumed to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday. “The government wants to strengthen its vigilance and surveillance more than ever.”
The ballistic missile launch comes about a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to further strengthen his military capability at a high-profile ruling party conference. He did not disclose any new policies toward the United States or South Korea. Hours after the launch, South Korean President Moon Jae-in acknowledged the growing tension between the Koreas at a groundbreaking ceremony for a rail line he hopes will eventually connect the two countries.
“We should not give up the hope for dialogue in order to fundamentally overcome this situation,” President Moon said. “If both Koreas work together and build trust, peace would be achieved one day.”
The launch also came just two days before planned talks between the U.S. and Japanese foreign and defense ministers.