North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile on Sunday, Japan’s Coast Guard and the South Korean military said, as Pyongyang condemned US-led military shows of force as tantamount to “a preview of a nuclear war.”
The missile was launched towards the sea off North Korea’s east coast, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
About 20 minutes after initially reporting the launch, the Japanese coast guard said the missile had already fallen.
It appeared to have fallen outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), broadcaster NTV reported.
No further details were immediately available.
The launch came after warnings from officials in Seoul and Tokyo that nuclear-armed North Korea was preparing to test-fire a missile, including one of its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) this month.
All of North Korea’s ballistic missile activities are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions, though Pyongyang defends them as its sovereign right to self defense.
Criticizing the US and Japan
Less than half an hour after the launch, North Korean state media carried a statement from the defense ministry criticizing “military gangsters” in the United States and South Korea for raising tensions with drills, displays of force, and nuclear war planning.
The statement by an unnamed ministry spokesman cited the arrival of the US nuclear-powered submarine USS Missouri in the South Korean port city of Busan on Sunday.
“The armed forces of the DPRK will thoroughly neutralize the US and its vassal forces’ attempt to ignite a nuclear war and thus reliably ensure peace and security in the Korean peninsula,” the statement said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The spokesman also criticized South Korea and the US for holding their second Nuclear Consultative Group meeting in Washington on Friday, as part of efforts by the allies to streamline war planning and increase military shows of force as a warning to North Korea.