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As Biden Struggles to Handle Both China and Russia, North Korea Joins the Fray with Most Powerful Launch Since 2017

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North Korea on Sunday launched its most powerful ballistic missile in five years.

The missile traveled a distance of about 500 miles, according to NBC.

The test was North Korea’s seventh missile test this month.

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for “promptly examine the issue of restarting all activities that had been temporarily suspended,” according to a Jan. 27 report in The New York Times, which interpreted the comment to mean the country might end its moratorium on launching intercontinental ballistic missiles and performing nuclear weapons tests.

Those limits were imposed after Kim met with former President Donald Trump.

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“We’re at the start of something, and we just need to cross our fingers,” said Robert Carlin, a former U.S. intelligence analyst on North Korea, told the Times.

There were no reports of damage from Sunday’s missile, which landed in the ocean, according to NBC.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency National Security Council meeting and called the missile a  “midrange ballistic missile launch,” NBC reported

The United States Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch in a statement and called upon North Korea to “refrain from further destabilizing acts.”

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory, or that of our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation,” the statement said.

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“When you assess the series of missile launches, you can deduce what (North Korea) seems to be saying,” said Yang Uk, a North Korea and military affairs expert at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a private think-tank in Seoul, according to NBC.

“Since taking office, the Biden administration has been quite busy with various issues other than North Korea and so one aspect of these series of shows of military power is to attract President Biden’s attention,” Yang said, noting the administration’s focus on China and Russia — both nations with extensive nuclear armaments.

Another expert in the area agreed.

“It has been the same cycle repeating itself: North Korean provocations, followed by a round of negotiations and their collapse and a pause in diplomacy,” Cheon Seong-whun, a former head of the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, according to The New York Times. “North Korea is now starting the cycle all over again, raising tensions with missile provocations.”

“Its goal is to make the United States and its allies accept its nuclear arsenal as a fait accompli,” he said.

One commentator said the Biden administration’s most common response to aggression – sanctions – will not work here.

“This is a deeply isolated, autarkic economy,” John Delury, a professor of history at Yonsei University in Seoul, told The Times for its Jan. 27 report, referring to the official North Korean policy of “juche,” or self-sufficiency.

“No amount of sanctions could create the pressures that COVID created in the last two years. Yet, do we see North Korea begging and saying, ‘Take our weapons and give us some aid?’ The North Koreans will eat grass,” he said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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