Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 07:55 IST

North Korea Fired Intermediate Range Missile into its Eastern Waters, Says S Korea

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen since 2022 as Kim used Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a distraction to accelerate his testing of missiles.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Image used for representation | Image:ANI
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Seoul: North Korea on Tuesday test-fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile toward waters off its eastern coast, South Korea's military said, adding to a series of weapons demonstrations that have raised tensions in the region.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from an area near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, but it did not immediately confirm how far the weapon flew. The North had said last month that it tested a solid-fuel engine for its new-type intermediate-range hypersonic missile as it tries to expand its arsenal of weapons aimed at remote US targets in the Pacific, including the military hub of Guam.

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It was the North's first known launch event since March 18, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire drill of artillery systems designed to target South Korea's capital.

Japan's coast guard shared an assessment of the country's Defense Ministry that the missile had already landed but still urged caution for vessels passing the area. Japanese broadcaster NHK said the missile likely didn't reach the country's exclusive economic zone.

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Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen since 2022 as Kim used Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a distraction to accelerate his testing of missiles and other weapons. The United States and South Korea have responded by expanding their combined training and trilateral drills involving Japan and sharpening their deterrence strategies built around strategic US assets.

There are concerns that North Korea could further dial up pressure in an election year in the United States and South Korea.

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The weapons North Korea has tested this year include an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to target the US mainland as well as cruise missiles and “super-large” multiple rocket launchers aimed at the Seoul capital area.

The latest launch came two days after North Korea reaffirmed its plans to launch several reconnaissance satellites this year in violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. South Korea's military said Monday there were no signs that a satellite launch is impending at the North's main launch facility in the northwest.

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Kim has described satellites as crucial for monitoring U.S. and South Korean military movements and enhancing the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles. Last November, North Korea put a military spy satellite into orbit for the first time, drawing condemnations from the US, South Korea, Japan and others, which view the launch as a cover for testing the North's long-range missile technology. North Korea has argued it has the sovereign right to launch spy satellites. 

(Inputs from AP. Except for the headline, Republic has not edited the content)

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Published April 2nd, 2024 at 08:07 IST