Times Standard (Eureka)

North Korea fires ballistic missile toward sea, Seoul says

- By Kim Tong-Hyung

North Korea on Thursday fired a short-range ballistic missile toward waters off its western coast, South Korea’s military said.

The launch came as the United States and South Korea prepare to hold their biggest combined military training exercises in years next week to counter the threat of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, which leader Kim Jong Un has aggressive­ly expanded in recent years despite his country’s deepening economic isolation and pandemic-related difficulti­es.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was fired at around 6:20 p.m. from an area near the western coastal city of Nampo. There were no immediate assessment­s of how far it flew or where it landed.

The South Korean military strengthen­ed its surveillan­ce of North Korean activities while maintainin­g “full readiness” in close coordinati­on with its ally, the U.S., the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The U.S. IndoPacifi­c Command said the launch did not pose an “immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies” but still highlighte­d the destabiliz­ing impact of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile program.

The launch came after Kim’s powerful sister warned Tuesday that her country is ready to take “quick, overwhelmi­ng action” against the United States and South Korea as the allies expand their military training to cope with a growing North Korean nuclear threat.

Coming off a record year in missile testing, North Korea has conducted more weapons demonstrat­ions to 2023 including test launches of an interconti­nental ballistic missile, short-range missiles and a purported long-range cruise missile system in recent weeks.

Experts say North Korea with its escalated testing activity and threats is trying to claim an ability to conduct nuclear strikes in South Korea and the U.S. mainland.

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