North Korea launches ballistic missile toward its eastern waters, South Korea says

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward its eastern waters, South Korean officials said Friday.

The launch is the latest in a series of weapons tests by the isolated nation, which Seoul sees as intimidation and a prelude to a potential invasion attempt.

It came as South Korea wraps up joint military exercises with an unspecified number of US troops ahead of major joint drills with the US, which the North has denounced as a threat.

Four days earlier, the North and South exchanged warning shots while accusing each other of violating maritime boundaries.

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In this June 29 photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.

In this June 29 photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a meeting of the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, North Korea.
(AP/Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service)

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched from North Korea’s Gangwon Province, on its southern border.

North Korean media did not confirm the missile test.

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“We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Thursday evening along the East Coast. “While we assessed that this event did not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.”

It added that US “commitments” to South Korea and Japan remain “ironclad”.

North Korea is also expected to conduct its first nuclear test of 2017 in the coming weeks.

This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is the test launch of a hypersonic missile in North Korea on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.  government.  The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified.  A Korean-language watermark on the image, as provided by the source, reads: "KCNA" which stands for Korean Central News Agency.  (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is the test launch of a hypersonic missile in North Korea on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. A Korean-language watermark on the image, as provided by the source, reads: “KCNA” which stands for the Korean Central News Agency. (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

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The International Atomic Energy Agency said it had seen indications of preparations for the test, which it called “incredibly worrying”.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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