North Korea nuclear program
North Korea nuclear program iStock

North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday (local times), authorities in Japan said, according to Reuters.

Japan's coast guard, which first reported the launch, said it could be a ballistic missile, but did not provide further details.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, meanwhile, said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile off the east coast, without elaborating.

North Korea regularly launches ballistic missiles and had a series of such tests in late 2021, the most recent of which was in October when it test-fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine.

The latest launch would be the first of the new year for North Korea, and comes days after its leader Kim Jong Un vowed to continue developing the military.

North Korea restarted its missile tests after denuclearization talks with the United States came to a halt.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to reach an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The pair had met three times since June 2018 but made little progress towards denuclearization.

The Biden administration reached out to North Korea shortly after taking office, but the country did not respond to those overtures.

In Biden’s first policy speech to Congress, he said nuclear programs in North Korea and Iran posed threats that would be addressed through “diplomacy and stern deterrence”.

Responding to that speech, North Korea dismissed the idea of talks with Washington, saying Biden’s speech was “intolerable” and “a big blunder."

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