North Korea tests ballistic missile, Japan and South Korea say


North Korea launched a suspected ballistic missile on Sunday afternoon, Japan and South Korea said.

The launch appeared to have been a shorter-range ballistic missile than those recently tested based on its flight time, Japan’s Defense Ministry said.

South Korean officials said the missile was launched from the Pyongyang area into the East Sea just before 3 p.m. local time. It traveled about 1,000 km, or about 621 miles, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile launch as a clear provocation that seriously threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korea’s military said in a statement.

North Korea last month tested a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile with an estimated range of about 9,300 miles, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the time, citing the missile’s flight trajectory.

The one launched on Sunday appeared to have been a medium-range missile, South Korea said.

Japan and South Korea were working in close cooperation with the U.S. to analyze the launch, South Korea said.

Emphasizing a new era of collaboration, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea have significantly advanced their military cooperation, including making headway in overcoming past disputes, in response to North Korea’s missile launches, aggressive posturing and displays of military strength.

The three countries have activated a real-time network for sharing swift and accurate tracking data on North Korean missile threats.

Initiated the day after North Korea’s December ICBM launch — believed to be the solid-fueled Hwasong-18 — this newly operational capability is expected to deliver detailed data on missile launch points, flight trajectories, and predicted impact points. Moving beyond its previous limitation to drills, authorities claim the network will now be in continuous operation.

Kishida, who on Sunday was on a trip to earthquake-stricken Kanazawa, said the government was assessing information and would provide appropriate information when they know more.

Japanese defense officials said the missile was fired from North Korea’s inland area, saying it flew on a northeast trajectory. They estimate the missile had a maximum altitude of over 30 miles and a flight distance of at least 310 miles.

This afternoon at 2:57 p.m., Japan’s Coast Guard sent out a warning that a North Korean missile had likely been launched. At about 3:11 p.m. they sent another saying the likely missile had appeared to have fallen.

Ships were warned if they came across debris from the fallen missile, not t to approach it, and alert the coast guard. The Coast Guard said it had not received any information on possible damage to ships.

Japan said it believed the missile landed in the sea outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from the country’s coast. The ministry said it was actively collating more information on the incident.

The missile launch comes ahead of a senior North Korean diplomat’s planned visit to Russia, according to TASS, a state-owned Russian news service.

North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui will begin a two-day diplomatic visit on Jan. 15 at the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, TASS reported, citing the North Korean Central News Agency.

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