North Korea fires ballistic missile amid US-South Korea drills
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan, on Sunday, according to the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Our military detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from around the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province at 11:05 am (0205 GMT) towards the East Sea," it said, adding that their military is "maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States."
The launch is the latest in a flurry of missile tests seen this week.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took to Twitter to confirm the launch, saying "North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile."
Meanwhile, the Japanese Coast Guard said the projectile, which could have been a ballistic missile, had already fallen. Japan's defense ministry said the missile flew at an altitude of 50 kms and covered a range of 800 kms.
More details on the missile launch were not immediately available. The launch, if confirmed, would be the North's third round of weapons tests since the US and South Korean militaries began joint military drills last week.
Pyongyang fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on Thursday, hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol flew to Tokyo for a summit that discussed ways to counter the nuclear-armed nation. Before that, on Tuesday, North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine.
South Korean and US forces are conducting an 11-day joint military drill called "Freedom Shield 23." Pyongyang often regards such drills as rehearsals of an invasion.
South Korea condemned the recent ballistic missile launches by the North as a "clear violation" of a U.N. Security Council resolution. They have also prompted criticism from Japan and the US.
"North Korea's behavior threatens international peace and security, and is unacceptable," Japan's state minister of defense Toshiro Ino said at a news conference.
The United States Indo-Pacific Command, in a statement, said that while Sunday's launch did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel and its allies, the launches highlight a destabilising impact of the country's unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.