North Korea fires two ballistic missiles hours before Kim meets Putin in Russia

DailyBiteSep 13, 2023 | 11:58

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles hours before Kim meets Putin in Russia

Hours after the missile launch, Kim and Putin met on Wednesday morning at Russia's cosmodrome. (Photo credit: Reuters/AP)

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off its eastern coast on Wednesday (September 13), as reported by South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese Coast Guard.

This provocative move occurred just hours before North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia.

What happened

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that the missiles were fired approximately 10 minutes apart from the Sunan area, near Pyongyang's international airport.

  • The projectiles were tracked as they traversed across the country and headed towards the eastern seas. The precise range of these missiles was not immediately disclosed.
  • Japan's Coast Guard, referring to Tokyo's Defense Ministry, indicated that the missiles likely landed in the sea but cautioned vessels in the vicinity of Japanese coasts to remain vigilant for falling debris.
  • Both missiles fell in the sea outside Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Kim's rare foreign trip

Notably, this trip to Russia marks Kim Jong Un's first visit abroad since 2019. His ability to maintain command and control over North Korea's missile and nuclear forces while abroad remains a subject of interest.

Kim and Putin met on Wednesday morning at Russia's cosmodrome, where they greeted each other at the space site, as reported by the Russian news agency TASS.

"Thank you for inviting us during your busy schedule," said Kim to Putin as they shook hands and greeted each other.

Economic aid and weapons technologies

Experts suggest that Putin could use this meeting with Kim to secure additional supplies of North Korean artillery and ammunition for the ongoing situation in Ukraine. In return, Kim might seek economic aid and advanced weapons technologies to bolster his nuclear weapons and missile programs.


"I am glad to see you," said Putin to Kim as he welcomed the leader of North Korea to Russia's advanced space site. "This is our new cosmodrome," Putin added, introducing him to the Vostochny space centre launched in 2016.

North Korea's missile program

North Korea's missile program ranks among the world's most active and advanced. The country has been developing ballistic missiles since the early 1960s and has tested various types, including short-range, medium-range, and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

  • In recent years, North Korea has made significant progress in its missile program, including testing an ICBM with potential reach to the United States. The country has also conducted tests of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
  • The United States and its allies have imposed sanctions to curb North Korea's missile program. However, these measures have had limited success, with North Korea continuing to advance its missile program, posing a direct security threat to the United States and its allies.
  • The situation continues to evolve, and diplomatic efforts are expected to intensify following this latest missile launch.


UN sanctions and regional implications

North Korea's continuous ballistic missile and nuclear weapons activities remain in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, last supported by China and Russia in 2017.


Since then, Beijing and Moscow have advocated for the relaxation of sanctions to facilitate diplomatic negotiations and alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

Last updated: September 13, 2023 | 11:58
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