On Sunday, North Korea fired what is believed to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile towards the sea, as reported by South Korea's military. This comes two months after North Korea

claimed to have tested engines for a new missile that could potentially strike distant US targets in the region.

The launch marks North Korea's first missile test this year, and experts suggest that the country may conduct more provocative missile tests to influence the outcomes of South Korea's parliamentary elections in April and the US presidential election in November.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that they detected the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile from North Korea's capital region on Sunday afternoon. The missile reportedly flew towards the North's eastern waters. South Korea, the US, and Japan are currently analyzing additional details of the launch, and South Korea's military remains on high alert.

Japan's Defense Ministry also confirmed spotting the suspected ballistic missile, stating that it was believed to have landed in the ocean. In mid-November, North Korea claimed to have successfully tested solid-fuel engines for a new intermediate-range ballistic missile designed to target US military bases in Okinawa, Japan, and Guam.

Solid propellants, used in these missiles, make launches more difficult to detect compared to liquid-fueled missiles. North Korea has a growing arsenal of solid-fuel short-range missiles targeting South Korea. While the last public missile launch was in December, recent escalations in warlike rhetoric and artillery drills near the disputed sea boundary with South Korea have heightened tensions in the region.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent threats against South Korea and vows to expand the country's nuclear arsenal suggest a desire for diplomatic concessions. Experts believe Kim may be aiming for a South Korean leadership open to rapprochement and a return of former US President Donald Trump to the White House, anticipating potential concessions like sanctions relief. Photo buy John Pavelka from Austin, TX, U.S., Wikimedia commons.