North Korea fired what could be a ballistic missile on Sunday, military officials in South Korea and Japan said, in what would be the first test since the nuclear-armed country conducted a record number of launches in January.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that North Korea had fired a suspected ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast from a location near Sunan, where Pyongyang’s international airport is located.
The airport has been the site of missile tests, including a pair of short-range ballistic missiles fired on Jan. 16.
Sunday’s missile flew around to a maximum altitude of around 620 km (390 miles), to a range of 300 km (190 miles), JCS said.
Analysts said the flight data didn’t closely match earlier tests, and suggested it could be a medium-range ballistic missile fired on a “lofted” trajectory.
“There have been frequent launches since the start of the year, and North Korea is continuing to rapidly develop ballistic missile technology,” Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said in a televised statement. North Korea was threatening the security of Japan, the region and the international community, he said.
The United States condemned the latest launch and called on North Korea to cease destabilising acts, but said the test did not pose an immediate threat, said the U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command.
North Korea’s last test was on Jan. 30, when it fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate range ballistic missile.
The largest weapon test-fired since 2017, the Hwasong-12 was reported to have flown to an altitude of about 2,000 km (1,200 miles) and range of 800 km (500 miles). That capped a record month of mostly short-range missile launches in January. (Reuters)