North Korea fires short-range ballistic missile into East Sea

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SEOUL – South Korea’s military said North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea on Sunday, two days after a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier arrived here for allied maneuvers.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported that the launch was detected at 6:53 a.m. from a region in or around Taechon, North Pyongan Province, and that it flew 600 kilometers at an apogee of roughly 60 kilometers at a top speed of Mach 5.

The South Korean and American intelligence services are undertaking a thorough investigation for additional details, according to the JCS.

The launch coincided with the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Seoul later this week, and the allies are planning a cooperative maritime exercise in the East Sea featuring the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group.

Soon after the launch, JCS Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum and the commander of the South Korea-US Combined Forces Command, Gen. Paul LaCamera, discussed security cooperation.

“They emphasized that they would further reinforce an united defensive posture against any North Korean threats and provocations through the forthcoming South Korea-US maritime exercise and other initiatives,” the JCS said in a text message to reporters.

It urged the North to halt all ballistic missile tests immediately, calling them a “major provocation that undermines peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as in the international community” and a “clear” violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

“While monitoring and tracking North Korean moves in close conjunction with the US to prepare for any subsequent provocation,” the JCS added, “our military will maintain a firm readiness posture based on the capabilities to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocation.”

According to a source, the military is investigating the likelihood that the projectile fired was the KN-23 missile, which is identical to the Russian Iskander.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s presidential office called a National Security Council meeting and criticized the North’s move.

According to Seoul’s foreign ministry, the country’s senior nuclear envoy, Kim Gunn, conducted back-to-back phone consultations with his American and Japanese counterparts, Sung Kim and Takehiro Funakoshi, and agreed to enhance coordination against Pyongyang’s saber-rattling.

The US Indo-Pacific Command emphasized Washington’s commitment to its Northeast Asian allies’ security.

“While we have determined that this event poses no immediate threat to US soldiers or territory, or to our friends,” the command said in a news release. The acronym DPRK refers to the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The launch came after concerns that Pyongyang was planning to launch a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

It was the North’s fifth missile launch since President Yoon Suk-yeol took office in May.

In June, Pyongyang launched eight short-range ballistic missiles.

Harris will go to Seoul on Thursday after attending the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, according to the White House, in order to showcase the “strength” of America’s partnerships with both countries.

It is her first official travel to Asia since taking office last year.

The USS Ronald Reagan, the flagship of the United States’ naval might, arrived in the southeastern port city of Busan on Friday for the first time in five years to conduct joint exercises with the South Korean Navy.

Source: Yonhap

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