SEOUL — North Korea fired an unidentified projectile off its east coast on Friday, hours after it warned of “stronger and certain reaction” if the United States helped impose more sanctions on the North in response to its recent series of missile tests.
The South Korean military said its analysts were studying the trajectory and other flight data from the launch to learn more. When North Korea launches a missile, the South’s military usually calls it “an unidentified projectile” before it relates more details.
Earlier on Friday, the North’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing a proposal by the United States that the U.N. Security Council place fresh sanctions on North Korea following its six ballistic and other missile tests since September 2021.
The tit for tat between North Korea and the United States raised tensions at a sensitive time in the region, as China geared up for hosting the Winter Olympics in Beijing next month and South Korea for its presidential election on March 9.
Separately on Wednesday, the Biden administration blacklisted five North Korean officials active in Russia and China who Washington said were responsible for procuring goods for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile-related programs.
North Korea resumed testing missiles in September after a six-month hiatus. It has since conducted at least six missile tests, which involved a long-range strategic cruise missile, ballistic missiles rolled out of mountain tunnels and a mini submarine-launched ballistic missile. In two tests this month, it launched what it called hypersonic ballistic missiles with detachable gliding warheads that made them harder to intercept because they could change course during flight.
All the tests violated U.N. Security Council resolutions that banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missile technologies or technologies used to make and deliver nuclear weapons. But the North’s Foreign Ministry insisted on Friday that it was exercising “its right to self-defense” and that the missile tests were “part of its efforts for modernizing its national defense capability.”
“The U.S. is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the D.P.R.K.’s just activity to the U.N. Security Council,” the ministry said in a statement, using the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It added, “If the U.S. adopts such a confrontational stance, the D.P.R.K. will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it.”
The statement did not elaborate on North Korea’s possible future actions. But the country has resumed missile tests since meetings between its leader, Kim Jong-un, and Donald J. Trump, then president, ended without an agreement on how to roll back the North’s nuclear weapons program or when to lift sanctions.
Those tests indicated that the North was developing more sophisticated ways of delivering nuclear and other warheads to South Korea, Japan and American bases there on its shorter-range missiles, according to defense…