North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, South Korea and Japan said.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said “an unidentified projectile” fired from an inland location flew toward North Korea’s eastern sea.
Although Seoul did not provide further details, Japan’s defence ministry said it appeared to be a ballistic missile.
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that his government is analysing details and “will step up its vigilance.”
The missile was launched shortly before North Korea’s envoy to United Nations Kim Song spoke at the UN General Assembly in New York.
He urged the United States and South Korea to give up their hostile policies towards Pyongyang and said no one could deny his country’s right to self-defence and to test weapons.
“The possible outbreak of a new war on the Korean Peninsula is contained not because of the US’ mercy on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), it is because our state is growing a reliable deterrent that can control the hostile forces in an attempted military invasion,” Mr Kim said.
It was Pyongyang’s third launch this month, after North Korea tested a “strategic” cruise missile and two railway-borne ballistic missiles. These tests were the North’s first such launches in six months and reportedly aimed at displaying its ability to attack key US allies South Korea and Japan.
UN Security Council resolutions have forbidden North Korea from testing ballistic missiles.
The Washington-Pyongyang talks on denuclearisation have been dormant following the 2019 summit between former US president Donald Trump and North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
However, Pyongyang’s latest outreach came as a response to South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s renewed calls for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War to promote peace in the region. Last week at the UN, the South Korean president proposed that the end-of-the-war declaration be signed among the two Koreas, the US and China.
Officials from the South described the declaration as a “political” and “symbolic” step because a peace treaty is needed to be signed to formally end the Korean War. The three-year-long war had ended with an armistice, leaving the two countries in a technical state of conflict.
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week said Pyongyang was willing to consider an inter-Korean summit on the basis of mutual respect and impartiality. Seoul welcomed the prospect urging the need to restore a hotline link between the two.
Earlier this year, she had advised the US against “causing a stink at its first step” in the region if it wished to “sleep well for the next four years.”
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