North Korea fires short-range ballistic missile, South Korea says

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward 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 a.m., flew some 500 miles before hitting a target, according to a South Korean military statement.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile flew as high as 30 miles.

Seoul has condemned the recent ballistic missile launches by the North as a “clear violation” of a U.N. Security Council resolution.

Soon after the launch, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said the U.S. 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 that Japan had protested strongly via North Korea’s embassy in Beijing. South Korean and American forces kicked off the 11-day drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23.”AP North Korea has condemned the increase in South Korea/American joint military drills.AP

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Sunday’s launch does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. 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 between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, hours before South Korea’s president flew to Tokyo for a summit that discussed ways to counter the North.

Pyongyang said Thursday’s ICBM launch was a warning against the U.S.-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. US soldiers take a position as a prepares to land during a field artillery battalion gun raid drill at a military training field in Pocheon on March 19, 2023.AFP via Getty Images

North Korea also criticized the U.S. and U.N. Secretary-General Antnio Guterres, KCNA reported later in the day, for bringing up its human rights abuses at a recent informal meeting of the United Nations Security Council, describing the move as a “serious challenge” to its sovereignty.

“The U.S. launched a ‘human rights’ campaign against the DPRK in the U.N. arena while staging the aggressive joint military exercise which poses a grave threat to our national security,” North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the U.N. was quoted as saying by state media.