North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea between Koreas, Japan
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile Thursday that landed in the water between the Korean peninsula and Japan, prompting Japan to order residents of an island to take shelter as a precaution.
The order has been cancelled.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said a North Korean missile launched from near the capital Pyongyang flew toward the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The statement described the missile as a medium- or long-range weapon but did not say how far the missile could fly.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South Korean military has increased its surveillance status and maintains strong readiness in close coordination with the United States.
Japan said the missile fell into the water but did not immediately give a more precise landing site.
Earlier, the launch had prompted the Japanese government to appeal to people to seek shelter on the northern island of Hokkaido.
The government then corrected and withdrew its missile warning, saying its analysis showed there was no chance of the missile landing near Hokkaido.
Officials in charge of the government’s crisis management division could not immediately be reached.
Last October, Japan issued a similar evacuation order after a North Korean medium-range missile flew over Japan in a launch that demonstrated its ability to reach the US Pacific territory of Guam.
At the time, Japanese authorities alerted residents of its northeastern regions to take shelter and stop trains, although no damage was reported before the weapon landed in the Pacific.
Thursday’s launch, the latest in the North’s barrage of weapons tests this year, came Days after its leader Kim Jong Un vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal In more “practical and humiliating” ways.
This year, North Korea has fired about 30 missiles in response South Korea-US military exercises That it sees as a rehearsal for an attack.
South Korean and US officials say their drills are defensive in nature and organized to respond to North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats.
According to North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, during a military meeting on Monday, Kim reviewed the country’s frontline attack plans and various battle documents and strengthened his nuclear deterrent in a “more practical and offensive” manner. Emphasized the need to do
The KCNA said the meeting discussed the undisclosed issues related to strengthening defense capabilities and perfecting war preparations to counter the threat posed by the military exercises of its adversaries.
North Korea has long argued that US-led military exercises in the region are evidence of Washington’s hostility towards Pyongyang.
The North has said it was forced to develop nuclear weapons to counter US military threats, although US and South Korean officials have firmly said they have no intention of attacking the North.
There are concerns that North Korea could conduct its first nuclear test in more than five years after it unveiled a new type of nuclear weapon earlier this month.
Foreign experts are debating whether North Korea has developed warheads Small and light enough to fit on its more advanced missiles.
South Korean officials say North Korea has not been answering South Korean calls to a set of inter-Korean hotlines across the border for nearly a week.
The North’s alleged suspension of communications on those channels may be worrisome as they are meant to prevent accidental clashes along the rivals’ disputed western sea border.
On Tuesday, South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, Seoul’s point man on the North, expressed “strong regret” over North Korea’s “unilateral and irresponsible attitude” to the hotlines.
Kwon also warned of unspecified legal action over the North’s use of South Korean assets at the now-defunct Inter-Korean Factory Park in North Korea.
South Korea pulled its companies out of North Korea’s Kaesong in 2016 after the North’s nuclear test, removing the last remaining major sign of cooperation between the rivals.
North Korean state media recently showed South Korean buses plying the streets of Kaesong and Pyongyang.
North Korea’s advancing nuclear arsenal is expected to be a major topic during a summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and US President Joe Biden in Washington later this month.
The Yoon government is seeking strong US assurances that it will decisively and swiftly use all its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend South Korea in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack.
The influx of North Korean weapons tests has also increased the urge for Seoul and Tokyo to strengthen their defense posture along with their alliance with the United States.
Experts say that the discussion between the world leaders in the meeting of the Group of Seven to be held in Japan next month may also be important in order to maintain diplomatic pressure on North Korea in view of the work in the United Nations Security Council.
Permanent members China and Russia have halted tougher sanctions on North Korea in recent months, reflecting a rift deepened by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.