North Korea launched a ballistic missile off its east coast on Tuesday evening, according to South Korea’s military. It is just the latest show of force from the totalitarian state as the US and South Korea conduct their largest joint military drills in years.
Details, such as the missile’s flight range, were not immediately available.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan has not confirmed any damage within the country related to the launch and is gathering information on the missile.
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said a unit trained for “strike missions” fired a “powerful volley at the targeted waters” and demonstrated its capability to “counter an actual war”.
It continued: “[Kim] stressed that the fire assault sub-units should be strictly prepared for the greatest perfection in carrying out the two strategic missions, that is, first to deter war and second to take the initiative in war, by steadily intensifying various simulated drills for real war.”
This recent launch comes just two days after the North launched what it called two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine.
It is believed to be in retaliation to South Korean and US joint drills, dubbed “Freedom Shield 23”, which kicked off on Monday.
Drills to this scale have not been seen since 2017.
North Korea has long bristled at the allies’ drills as a rehearsal for invasion.
North Korea has conducted a record number of missile tests and drills in the past year in what it says is an effort to boost its nuclear deterrent and make more weapons fully operational.
North Korea launched 69 missiles last year – more than in the previous five years combined.
North Korea fired four strategic cruise missiles towards the Sea of Japan last week, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
This latest spate of hostility was intended as a demonstration of Pyongyang’s ability to conduct a nuclear counterattack against its enemies, the state media outlet said.
The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) North Korea Missile Test Database tracks all launches capable of delivering a payload of at least 500kg (1100 pounds) at a distance of at least 300km (186 miles).
According to the CNS, the number of tests had already broken the all-time record by June and only increased further.
On October 3, Pyongyang plotted a trajectory over Japan for the first time since 2017. In its longest flight to date, the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) travelled 2,800 miles before splashing down in the Pacific – a clear signal that US military installations on the island of Guam were within reach.
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