(CNN) — North Korea fired another missile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Thursday morning local time, according to South Korean and Japanese officials, escalating tensions in the area amid a series of shows of military might this week.
North Korea’s new launch is the sixth such ballistic missile launch in the past two weeks. It closely follows a previous and highly provocative launch by the isolated country; on Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile without warning over Japan — the first in five years — prompting Tokyo to urge residents to take shelter.
The United States and South Korea later responded with missile launches and exercises around the peninsula on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Also on Thursday, North Korea accused the US of contributing to tensions around the Korean Peninsula and framed its own launches as reactive.
US blames Russia, China for emboldening Pyongyang
The latest North Korean launch came hours after a Security Council briefing at the United Nations headquarters in New York about its weapons program.
Speaking at the council, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia and China of enabling it without naming them.
North Korea has “enjoyed blanket protection from two members of this council. These two members have gone out of their way to justify the DPRK’s repeated provocations and block every attempt to update the sanctions regime,” she said.
Referring to Russia and China, Thomas-Greenfield said, “Two permanent members of the Security Council have enabled [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un” to continue these “provocations.”
Experts have warned that North Korea’s recent tests suggest an even greater escalation in weapons testing could be on the horizon.
“North Korea is going to keep conducting missile tests until the current round of modernization is done,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told CNN earlier this week.
A nuclear test could come “anytime,” he added.
South Korean and US officials have been warning since May that North Korea may be preparing for a nuclear test, with satellite imagery showing activity at its underground nuclear test site.
If North Korea conducts a test, it would be the country’s seventh underground nuclear test and the first in nearly five years.
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