Seoul: North Korea fired a second ballistic missile into the East Sea in less than a week on Tuesday, according to the US military, which takes a strong view of the situation besides also inviting criticism from Pyongyang’s neighbours.
“We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” the Indo-Pacific Command said.
The launch came as the UN Security Council convened a closed-door session on Pyongyang’s launch of another missile last week.
Expressing his regret over the North’s launch, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said,”It is regrettable that the country has repeated missile launches”. He added Japan will ‘strengthen monitoring’ of North’s military activities.
“The missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the North’s illicit weapons program,” although it did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, it added.
The statement came several hours after an announcement by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff detecting the launch from an inland area at 7.27 am. It, however, did not provide details.
“For additional information, the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are in the process of conducting a detailed analysis,” the JCS said in a text message sent to the media, Yonhap news agency said.
The North is said to have fired the latest missile from its northern province of Jagang bordering China, Yonhap quoted an informed source as saying.
Jagang Province is where the North tested its self-proclaimed hypersonic missile on Jan 5 after another such advanced missile in September last year.
Seoul is yet to confirm North’s hypersonic missile claims.
The presidential National Security Council convened an emergency meeting and expressed “strong regret.”
Seoul called on North to return to the dialogue table.
North Korea has unveiled its ambitious push to develop an array of new, formidable weapons during the eighth congress of the ruling Workers’ Party a year ago.
During the congress, the North catalogued “important strategic tasks,” such as developing tactical nuclear weapons, a hypersonic gliding flight warhead, a nuclear-powered submarine and a reconnaissance satellite, according to its state media.
Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since the no-deal Hanoi summit between the two countries in February 2019.