In resuming its ballistic testing activity after a yearlong pause, North Korea has demonstrated a potentially nuclear-capable weapon that shows how it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a stalemate in diplomacy with the United States.
The two short-range missiles the North fired into the sea this week were its first meaningful provocation since the inauguration of President Joe Biden, who on Thursday delivered a restrained response to the launches, saying “there will be responses if they choose to escalate.”
Since a provocative run in North Korean nuclear and missile tests in 2016 and 2017, much of the U.S. focus has been on North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles that pose a direct threat to the American homeland.
But experts say North Korea’s growing arsenal of shorter-range solid-fuel weapons are more destabilizing for U.S. allies South Korea and Japan. And the latest launches underscored the North’s efforts to improve its capacities for delivering nuclear strikes and overwhelming missile defense systems.