North Korea launches suspected ballistic missile for first time in two months

North Korea launches suspected ballistic missile for first time in two months

North Korea launched a suspected ballistic missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, just one week after Kim Jong Un pledged to ramp up the country’s military might. 

The launch came in the early hours of Wednesday morning, according to the South Korean and Japanese militaries. It’s unclear where the suspected missile landed or if it caused any damage. 

“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP/Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Politburo meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP/Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service)

It’s the first missile launch in about two months following a series of tests from September to November of last year, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile. 

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Kim Jong Un pledged last week at a meeting for Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party to increase the country’s military might. 

“The increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean Peninsula and international politics have instigated calls to vigorously push forward with our national defense build-up plans without any delay,” the leader, who marked 10 years in power, said at the meeting, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government, an underwater-launched missile lifts off in the waters off North Korea's eastern coastal town of Wonsan. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

In this Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government, an underwater-launched missile lifts off in the waters off North Korea’s eastern coastal town of Wonsan. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

The United States and Pyongyang haven’t held formal nuclear talks since 2019, when negotiations initiated by the Trump administration broke down. 

Nation Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last month that the Biden administration “has not gotten traction in diplomacy with North Korea” during Biden’s first year in office. 

“We have communicated our willingness and readiness to engage in that diplomacy, and in the meantime, we’re continuing to enforce our sanctions and align closely with our allies,” Sullivan said at the Council for Foreign Relations on Dec. 17. 

Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung.

Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung. (REUTERS/Sue-Lin Wong)

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North Korea’s extensive domestic troubles have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, as the hermit kingdom cut itself off from much of the Chinese aid that has been its lifeline for years. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.