North Korea Ups Ante With Ballistic Missile Launch

The North Korean military launched a pair of medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan in the early morning hours of March 26. The launch comes hours after US officials testified before Congress about North Korea’s large volume of rocket and missile testing in the past month. A South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement confirmed the launches, calling them a “provocative act” and a “flagrant violation” of United Nations Security Council resolutions. The launch “significantly threatens international navigation order and also the safety of civilians” aboard international commercial flights, according to the statement. In a press briefing, Republic of Korea Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok said ROK and US military officials have stepped up activities to monitor potential additional launches, reported the Yonhap News Agency. He added the ROK believes the launch was in response to the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, Netherlands. Although the summit was largely overshadowed by events in Ukraine, US, ROK, and Japanese officials also agreed during the summit to continue to press the North Koreans to denuclearize. Based on the range of the test, South Korean officials said they believe the missiles were No Dong medium-range ballistic missiles, which are capable of reaching as far as 1,500 kilometers and could be equipped with both nuclear and conventional warheads. If that’s true, this would be the first reported launch of a No Dong since 2009.