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North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile after US-South Korea drills

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orth Korea has faced international condemnation after firing a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.

South Korea said the single, short-range missile was fired from near the Taechon area of North Pyongyan Province and flew about 373 miles at an altitude of 60km just before 7am local time.

It came after a US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea to participate in joint drills, and ahead of a planned visit by Vice President Kamala Harris.

“North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile is an act of grave provocation that threatens the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and international community,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

After the launch, the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Kim Seung-kyum and the US Forces Korea Commander Paul LaCamera discussed the situation and reaffirmed their readiness to respond to any threat or provocation from North Korea, it added.

The South Korean National Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss response measures and condemned the launch as a violation of UN protocol.

Japan’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile is estimated to have reached a maximum altitude at 50 km and may have flown on an irregular trajectory.

Mr Hamada said it fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of problems with shipping or air traffic.

“If you include launches of cruise missiles this is the nineteenth launch, which is an unprecedented pace,” Hamada said.

“North Korea’s action represents a threat to the peace and security of our country, the region and the international community and to do this as the Ukraine invasion unfolds is unforgivable.”

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