North Korea fires ballistic missile towards sea, says South Korean military
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, extending what has already been a record-breaking number of North Korean launches this year.
South Korea’s defense ministry said the North fired a short-range ballistic missile from the Taecheon area in North Pyongan province at 6:53 a.m. local time. Japan’s Coast Guard reported that the missile apparently landed less than 10 minutes after it reported the launch.
A day earlier, South Korea’s presidential office warned it had detected activity suggesting North Korea was preparing to fire a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, from its east coast city of Sinpo.
North Korea has now fired 32 ballistic missiles in 2022, the most it has ever launched in a single year. The launches have featured both short-range missiles, which appear designed to evade the missile defenses of the United States and its allies in the region and longer-range missiles, which are meant to target the U.S. mainland.
U.S. officials say North Korea has also made preparations to conduct its seventh nuclear test, a step that could dramatically raise regional tensions.
The United States says it is open to negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear program but has also increased its public displays of military strength in coordination with its ally, South Korea.
Earlier this week, the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, arrived in the South Korean port city of Busan. The carrier will soon conduct drills with South Korea’s military, according to Seoul.
It is the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has visited South Korea in about four years. Earlier this month, the United States and South Korea wrapped up major joint military exercises, including live fire drills, for the first time since 2017.
The United States and South Korea began scaling back or spreading out such military drills in 2018 during a period of increased diplomacy with North Korea. The North walked away from those talks in 2019 and a short time later resumed missile tests.
North Korea has ignored U.S. calls for dialogue, instead accusing the United States of conducting a hostile policy.