Seoul: North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea Sunday, South Korea’s military said, two days after a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrived here for allied drills.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from an area in or around Taechon, North Pyongan Province, at 6:53 a.m., and that it flew some 600 kilometers at an apogee of around 60 km at a top speed of Mach 5.
The intelligence authorities of the South and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for other details, Yonhap news agency reported quoting the JCS.
The launch came as US Vice President Kamala Harris plans to visit Seoul later this week and the allies are set to hold a joint maritime exercise in the East Sea, involving the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group.
Soon after the launch, JCS Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum and Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command, had discussions on security coordination.
“They reaffirmed that through the planned South Korea-US maritime exercise and other efforts, they would further solidify a combined defense posture against any North Korean threats and provocations,” the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
It strongly urged the North to immediately stop all ballistic missile tests, saying such a launch is an act of “significant provocation that undermines peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as in the international community,” and a “clear” breach of UN Security Council resolutions.
“While monitoring and tracking North Korean movements to prepare against any additional provocation in close cooperation with the US, our military will maintain a firm readiness posture based on the capability to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocation,” the JCS said.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command stressed Washington’s security commitment to South Korea and Japan.
“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs,” the command said in a press release. DPRK stands for the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The launch followed reports that Pyongyang seems to be preparing to fire a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
It marked the North’s fifth missile launch since the Yoon Suk-yeol administration took office in May.
Pyongyang last fired eight short-range ballistic missiles in June.
Harris plans to visit Seoul Thursday after attending the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo — a trip that the White House said is designed to highlight the “strength” of America’s alliances with both nations.
It marks her first formal visits to the Asian allies since taking office last year.
The USS Ronald Reagan, a centerpiece of the US’ naval might, arrived in the southeastern port city of Busan Friday to stage its first combined drills with the South Korean Navy in five years.