North Korea fires ballistic missile into waters off its east coast

North Korea fires ballistic missile into waters off its east coast

  • US News
  • December 18, 2022
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile into waters off its east coast on Sunday, South Korean and Japanese officials said.

South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said the launch occurred on Sunday morning but gave no further details. The Japanese Prime Minister’s office also confirmed the launch.

The Japan Coast Guard said it was informed by the Defense Ministry that North Korea’s suspected missile landed in waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula, but did not say how close it was to the Japanese coast.

Japan’s state television NHK quoted unnamed government sources as saying the missile landed outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Sunday’s launch came three days after North Korea announced it was testing a “high-thrust solid fuel engine” for a new strategic weapon, a development that could allow it to possess a more mobile, harder-to-detect arsenal of ICBMs that can reach mainland US.

FILE -- Flags of North Korea at rear and South Korea at front flutter in the wind as pictured August 9, 2021 from the border area between two Koreas in Paju, South Korea Aug. 18, 2022, off its east coast, South Korea said.  South Korea's joint chief of staff said the launch occurred on Sunday morning but gave no further details.  (Im Byung-shik/Yonhap via AP, file)FILE — Flags of North Korea at rear and South Korea at front flutter in the wind as pictured August 9, 2021 from the border area between two Koreas in Paju, South Korea Aug. 18, 2022, off its east coast, South Korea said. South Korea’s joint chief of staff said the launch occurred on Sunday morning but gave no further details. (Im Byung-shik/Yonhap via AP, file)

In recent months, North Korea has tested a spate of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, including the launch last month of its development-stage, liquid-fuelled, longest-range Hwasong-17 ICBM, which is expected to carry multiple warheads.

Some experts say North Korea will eventually use an expanded arsenal to solicit sanctions relief and other concessions from the United States.

The exact status of North Korea’s nuclear attack capability remains classified, as all tests of its ICBMs in recent years have been conducted at a steep angle to avoid neighboring countries.

Some experts speculate that given the many years it has devoted to its nuclear program, North Korea already has working nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the entire US. But others say the country is years away from acquiring such weapons and said it has yet to prove publicly that it has technology to protect warheads from the harsh conditions of atmosphere reentry.

The United States and South Korea have expanded their regular military drills and pushed to further strengthen their joint defense capabilities in the face of North Korea’s advancing nuclear program. North Korea has threatened to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively in possible conflicts with the United States and South Korea, and the US military has warned the North that using nuclear weapons “will lead to the end of this regime”.

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