News ID: 125862
Publish Date : 02 April 2024 - 21:20

North Korea Fires Medium-Range Ballistic Missile

SEOUL (AFP) -- North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile on Tuesday, Seoul’s military said, the latest in a spate of banned weapons tests by Pyongyang this year.
Tuesday’s launch was the third ballistic missile test of 2024, after a solid-fuel one overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in March and another tipped with a maneuverable hypersonic warhead in January.
It also comes less than two weeks after Kim supervised an engine test for a “new-type intermediate-range hypersonic missile”, according to North Korean state media, which has also said he oversaw “super large” rocket launcher drills and tank exercises this year.
Seoul’s military “detected around 06:53 (2153 GMT) what is presumed to be a medium-range ballistic missile fired from Pyongyang area into the East Sea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.
The missile flew about 600 kilometers (373 miles) before splashing down, the JCS said, adding it had “stepped up monitoring and are closely sharing relevant information with the U.S. and Japan”.
Tokyo confirmed the missile launch, with its coastguard urging vessels to be vigilant and report any fallen objects without approaching them.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK, citing unnamed government sources, reported that the missile appeared “to have fallen in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone”.
The launch comes just days after a Russian veto at the United Nations ended UN expert monitoring of North Korean sanctions violations, amid a probe into alleged arms transfers between Moscow and Pyongyang.
North Korea has yet to comment on the development.
It also comes just over a week before South Korea votes in a general election, in which the party of hawkish President Yoon Suk Yeol, who has taken a tough line with Pyongyang, is seeking to win back control of the parliament.
Pyongyang has been under a raft of sanctions since its second nuclear test in 2009, but the development of its nuclear and weapons programs has continued unabated.
So far this year, the nuclear-armed North has declared South Korea its “principal enemy”, jettisoned agencies dedicated to reunification and outreach, and threatened war over “even 0.001 mm” of territorial infringement.
The Tuesday launch “appears to be part of Pyongyang’s missile development blueprint, including hypersonic weapons,” said Han Kwon-hee of the Korea Association of Defense Industry Studies.
It seems Kim is developing such technology domestically, rather than with Russian help “given the sensitive nature of the weapons”, he added.