North Korea launches biggest missile test since 2017

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The weapon was apparently an intermediate-range missile that reached an altitude of 2,000km before coming down in the Sea of Japan.

Japan, South Korea, and the US have all condemned the launch, the seventh test this month.

The UN prohibits North Korea from ballistic and nuclear weapons tests and has imposed strict sanctions.

But the East Asian state regularly defies the ban, and leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to bolster his country’s defenses.

Experts suggest multiple reasons lie behind the spate of launches, including political signaling of strength to global and regional powers, a desire by Kim Jong-un to pressure the US back into long-stalled nuclear talks, and also the practical need to test out new engineering and military command systems.

The timing is also seen as significant, coming just before the Winter Olympics in China, and ahead of the South Korean presidential election in March.

And the tests have also surged as the faltering North Korean economy struggles under US-led sanctions, pandemic-related difficulties, and decades of mismanagement.



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