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North Korea may have fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, South Korea says


North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea on June 30, 2019.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

North Korea on Tuesday fired an unidentified short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s military said.

According to NBC News, South Korea’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — a group of chiefs from each major branch of South Korea’s armed services — said Pyongyang “fired an unidentified short-range ballistic missile.” It was suspected to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile, the group said.

North Korea launched the ballistic missile from the Sinpo area in Southern Hamkyong province at around 10:17 am local time into the East Sea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff office. It added that officials were working to obtain more information.

“Currently, South Korean military is working closely with the U.S. in case North Korea launch additional fires and are also maintaining military preparedness while closely monitoring North Korean movements,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff office said.

South Korea’s national security council will be meeting to discuss the matter, NBC News reported.

Last month, reports said South Korea also successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile as it became the first country without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.

Separately, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles, and slammed North Korea’s repeated provocations as “extremely regrettable,” according to NBC News.

Officials said Japan was analyzing the situation and so far, there have been no reports of planes or vessels in the region being affected by the launch. Asked about the discrepancy between Japan and South Korea over the number of missiles that North Korea fired, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said, “We believe there were two.”

Japan’s coast guard issued a maritime safety advisory to ships but did not immediately know where the weapon landed, the Associated Press reported.

North Korea’s latest missile launch comes after media reports said President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea, Sung Kim, is scheduled to be in Seoul to meet American allies about potentially reviving talks with North Korea.

For its part, Pyongyang has stepped up its weapons testing in recent weeks.

Last month, North Korea’s state media reportedly said Pyongyang carried out successful tests of a new long-range cruise missile. Days later, it launched ballistic missiles off its east coast, am move condemned by neighboring Japan.

Nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States made some initial progress under the Trump administration.

But talks broke down almost two years ago when Washington refused to grant sanctions relief in exchange for Pyongyang’s dismantling of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Earlier this year, a top North Korean official said Pyongyang will not respond to numerous invitations to restart nuclear discussions until the U.S. dropped its “hostile policies.”

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