Officials Are Worried After North Korea Conducted Largest Missile Test Since 2017
North Korea has launched a missile test that is being called its biggest since 2017.
It's the seventh test the Hermit Kingdom has conducted in January as it continues to flex its military muscles in front of an increasingly worried world.
The BBC reports this latest missile was an intermediate range Hwasong-12 and it managed to reach a maximum altitude of 2,000km, before it landed in the Sea of Japan.
It flew for 30 minutes and travelled 800 kilometres.
Japan and South Korea have slammed North Korea for the move while the United Nations has reimposed sanctions on the country for testing ballistic missiles.
North Korean state news agency KCNA said the test was just to 'verify its accuracy' and that the weapon's trajectory was calculated 'in consideration of the security of the neighbouring countries'.
A senior official for the Biden administration said (via The Guardian): "We believe it is completely appropriate and completely correct to start having some serious discussions."
They added: "It requires a response. You will see us taking some steps that are designed to show our commitment to our allies ... and at the same time we reiterate our call for diplomacy.
"We stand ready and we are very serious about trying to have discussions that address concerns on both sides."
The flurry of launches this month have conjured up memories of 2017 when tensions were high inside North Korea.
The country, which is led by dictator Kim Jong-un, conducted multiple nuclear tests in that year and even had some projectiles fly over Japan. It was also the year that North Korea last tested an intermediate-range ballistic missile.
South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, called an emergency meeting for members of the National Security Council to discuss the test.
Dr Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer in international relations, told the BBC there could be multiple reasons why North Korea is flexing its muscles right now.
"There's a South Korean presidential election coming up in just over a month, so this is consistent with their past behaviour to try and intimidate South Korea and the incoming president," said Dr Pinkston said.
"And then there's the domestic audience inside North Korea which I think a lot of people underestimate, for that audience inside North Korea this is a way of signalling strength and resolve and the power of the leadership."
He added that the country could be doing it purely for 'engineering purposes to test new systems' or for 'military exercises'.
There is the fear they are using the tests as an advertisement to 'foreign buyers' as well.