South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced Thursday that North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast.
North Korea tested a ballistic missile, in an operation that is the latest in a series of missile tests it is conducting in the midst of severe regional tension, according to Yonhap news agency, quoting the South Korean army.
The agency quoted the Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying that the unidentified projectile was fired towards the waters off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also confirmed the missile launch, predicting in a tweet that it would fall “outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 550 kilometers east of the Korean Peninsula.”
The Japanese Coast Guard also warned ships of any falling objects.
The South Korean military said that the missile launched by North Korea on Thursday traveled a distance of 1,000 kilometers before it fell into the sea, adding that the missile was fired at a high angle.
The office of South Korean President Yoon Sok Yul also reported that the president had ordered the military to fully carry out the ongoing joint military exercises with the United States.
Washington and Seoul have stepped up defense cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from North Korea, which has conducted provocative tests of increasingly banned weapons.
It is scheduled that the exercises, which began on Monday, will continue for ten days.
In a rare move, Seoul’s army revealed this month that the special forces of the two allies had also conducted a military exercise dubbed the “Wooden Knife”, which included simulating precision strikes on key facilities in North Korea.
But the current maneuvers, called Freedom Shield, focus on the “changing security environment” due to North Korea’s heightened aggressiveness, according to the two allies.
North Korea views all of these maneuvers as rehearsals for an invasion, and has repeatedly warned that it will take “crushing” measures in response.
The missile launch coincided with the South Korean president’s visit to Tokyo to strengthen ties between the two countries in the face of Pyongyang’s aggression.
The summit is being held, the first of its kind in 12 years, as the two neighbors seek to mend diplomatic ties that have long been strained over the atrocities committed by Japan during its 35-year colonial rule of South Korea.
South Korea and Japan are stepping up defense spending and joint military exercises, which Yoon said are essential to regional and global stability.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defense, General Pat Ryder, said that North Korea’s use of any kind of nuclear weapons will lead to the end of its regime, in response Tuesday to a question about its announcement of the possibility of installing a nuclear warhead on strategic “cruise” missiles, two of which were launched from submarine recently.
Regarding Washington’s readiness to confront Pyongyang’s nuclear threats, the US general replied: “I think we were very clear that if North Korea used a nuclear weapon, this would be the end of its regime (..) But again, our focus is still on working properly.” Very closely with our allies and partners in the region to deter aggression, as maintaining security and stability in the region will remain our focus,” he said.
And North Korea announced last Monday that it had launched two strategic winged missiles from a submarine on Sunday that “accurately hit the target in the Sea of Japan” in an operation that followed its announcement of taking “practical measures for offensive use” to deter war, coinciding with the start of the United States and South Korea joint military exercises. this week.