© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the 7th enlarged plenary meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang, North Korea, March 1, 2023 in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Age
By Hyunsu Yim
SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile towards the sea off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Sunday, according to South Korea and Japan, the latest in a barrage of weapons tests from the nuclear-armed state.
The missile, launched from the Dongchang-ri site on the west coast around 11:05 am (0205 GMT), flew some 800 km (500 miles) before hitting a target, according to a South Korean military statement. Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile flew as high as 50 km (30 miles).
Seoul has condemned the recent ballistic missile launches by the North as a “clear violation” of a UN Security Council resolution.
Soon after the launch, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said the US deployed a B-1B strategic bomber to a joint air drill, which Seoul and Washington say they are holding to strengthen extended deterrence.
The launches have also prompted criticism from Tokyo and Washington.
“North Korea’s behavior threatens international peace and security, and is unacceptable,” Japan’s state minister of defense, Toshiro Ino, told a news conference, adding Japan had protested strongly via North Korea’s embassy in Beijing.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said Sunday’s launch does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or its allies. But the recent missile launches highlight the destabilizing impact of Pyongyang’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, it said in a statement.
The North on Thursday fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea summit between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, hours before South Korea’s president flew to Tokyo for a that discussed ways to counter the North.
Pyongyang said Thursday’s ICBM launch was a warning against the US-South Korea military drills, state media KCNA reported.
South Korean and American forces kicked off the 11-day drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23”, a week ago on a scale not seen since 2017.