A man watches a TV report showing the file footage of a North Korean missile test in Seoul. AFP
North Korea fired a submarine launched ballistic missile in its latest missile test on Tuesday, which has pressed ahead with military development in the face of international sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
One ballistic missile was launched about 10:17am local time from the vicinity of Sinpo, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, where North Korea keeps submarines as well as equipment for test firing submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
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The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff didn’t immediately say what kind of ballistic missile it was or how far it flew. Japan's coast guard issued a maritime safety advisory to ships but didn't immediately know where the weapon landed.
South Korea’s presidential office was planning to hold a national security council meeting to discuss the launch. A strong South Korean response could anger North Korea, which has been accusing Seoul of hypocrisy for criticizing the North's weapons tests while expanding its own conventional military capabilities.
People watch a TV broadcasting file footage of a news report on N.Korea firing a ballistic missile in Seoul. Reuters
South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo cited an unnamed military source as saying the government was "assuming that it was an SLBM test," without elaborating.
North Korea has also launched other types of missiles from that area.
"Our military is closely monitoring the situation and maintaining readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States, to prepare for possible additional launches," JCS said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that two ballistic missiles had been detected, and that it was "regrettable" that North Korea had conducted a string of missile tests in recent weeks.
There was no immediate explanation from South Korea's JCS for the conflicting number of missiles detected.
South Korea's unification ministry, which handles relations with the North, said daily routine liaison calls with the North were conducted normally on Tuesday and had no comment on the missile launch.
The string of weapons drills come as a prolonged hiatus in disarmament talks with the United States drags on, and despite recent overtures from Washington offering help to contain the pandemic.
Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.
The trio also condemned North Korea's disregard of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and its deeply destabilizing implications for the region, spokesperson Ned Price said.
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