North Korea launches long-range ballistic missile ahead of South Korea-Japan meeting

North Korea South Korea US Missile
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North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the East Sea on Thursday, just hours before summit discussions between South Korean and Japanese leaders on outstanding bilateral issues and regional security.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea stated it detected the launch from the Sunan area of Pyongyang at 7.10 a.m., and the missile, fired at a lofted angle, travelled 1,000 kilometres before hitting the waters, according to Yonhap NewsAgency.

A month before, the North conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test (ICBM).

Observers have highlighted the potential of Pyongyang launching a solid-fuel ICBM, which is faster to ignite and more difficult to detect before launch.

“The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the US are conducting a comprehensive analysis in consideration of recent movements related to the North’s missile development program,” the JCS said in a statement.

“We strongly condemn the North’s series of ballistic missile launches as an act of significant provocation that harms peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in the international community, and a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions,” the JCS said, urging the North to immediately stop such launches.

Later in the day, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will hold a summit in Tokyo, where the North’s nuclear and missile threats are expected to be a major topic of discussion.

The North’s rising nuclear and missile threats have given Seoul and Tokyo renewed impetus to put aside their past rivalries and work together to address the security problem.

The most recent launch occurred during the ongoing South Korean-US Freedom Shield (FS) exercise.

The North has condemned the exercise as “preparations for a war of aggression” and has promised to take “overwhelming” measures against the allies’ military activities.

The North launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two “strategic cruise missiles” from a submarine two days earlier.

The launches were interpreted as a reaction to the FS drill.