Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Joe Biden are seen on TV during a news program at the Suseo Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26, 2021.

Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press

North Korea’s claim on Friday that it had launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile highlighted military advances by the nuclear-armed state and propelled it to the top of U.S. President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda.

The United States condemned Thursday’s launches, which came hours before Mr. Biden held his first White House media conference since taking office in January.

When asked if he agreed that North Korea was the top foreign policy issue he faced, Mr. Biden replied: “Yes.”

Story continues below advertisement

The President had previously left North Korea entirely out of his maiden foreign-policy speech in February and, in outlining eight diplomatic priorities earlier in March, his secretary of state didn’t focus on North Korea except to list it as one of several countries that pose a challenge.

The launches, which were North Korea’s first ballistic missile tests in nearly a year, underscored steady progress in its weapons program since denuclearization talks with the United States foundered under former president Donald Trump.

Mr. Biden said the United States remains open to diplomacy with North Korea despite its missile tests, but warned there would be responses if Pyongyang escalates matters.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the missile test “concerning,” saying Seoul, Pyongyang and Washington should not create hurdles for talks.

“Now is the time for the South, the North and the United States to make efforts to continue dialogue. It is never desirable to create difficulties for dialogue,” he told a ceremony commemorating soldiers who fought in clashes with the North in 2002 and 2010.

North Korea had been widely expected to conduct some kind of weapons test in the early months of Mr. Biden’s term as a way of signalling its resolve, gaining practical military capabilities and boosting its leverage should talks resume.

While North Korea’s intentions are not yet clear, Thursday’s tests were relatively restrained, said John Delury, a professor at South Korea’s Yonsei University.

Story continues below advertisement

“These tests come some time after Biden’s inauguration, and they are still at a low enough level that it gives the administration breathing room,” he said. “Regardless of North Korea’s intentions, however, the effect is to elevate the significance and move it up the administration’s agenda.”

The State Department said the launches violate multiple UN Security Council resolutions and threaten the region and the broader international community.

The new weapon is based on existing technology that was improved to carry a 2.5-ton warhead, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported.

“The development of this weapon system is of great significance in bolstering up the military power of the country and deterring all sorts of military threats,” said Ri Pyong-chol, the senior leader who oversaw the test, according to KCNA.

Photos released by state media showed a black-and-white painted missile blasting off from a military launch vehicle.

Missile specialists at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) said it appeared to be a missile that was unveiled at a major military parade in Pyongyang in October.

Story continues below advertisement

KCNA said Thursday’s test confirmed the missile’s capability to conduct “low-altitude gliding leap type flight mode,” a feature that makes such weapons harder to detect and shoot down.

The United Nations Security Council North Korea sanctions committee is due to meet on Friday to discuss the missile tests, at the request of the United States.

The move suggests a measured response by the Biden administration, as the sanctions committee is comprised of lower-level diplomats from the 15 council members, rather than the ambassador-level council that convened after North Korea fired ballistic missiles a year ago.

While rejecting American overtures, North Korea has also used measured language, insisting it will return to talks only if the United States drops hostile policies.

Analysts noted leader Kim Jong-un did not appear to attend the Thursday missile tests, with state media instead showing undated photos of him inspecting new passenger buses in Pyongyang.

Mr. Kim has vowed to try to improve living conditions for citizens as North Korea’s economy was ravaged by multiple crises, including international sanctions over its weapons programs, natural disasters and a border lockdown that slowed trade to a trickle in an effort to prevent a coronavirus outbreak.

Story continues below advertisement

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies