North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Saturday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, after Pyongyang warned of a strong response to upcoming US-South Korea military drills.
Japan’s Coast Guard also said North Korea fired what could be a ballistic missile.
The firing comes after North Korea threatened on Friday an “unprecedentedly persistent, strong” response as South Korea and the United States gear up for annual military exercises as part of efforts to fend off the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired an unprecedented number of missiles last year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that could strike anywhere in the United States, while resuming preparations for its first nuclear test since 2017.
Allied nuclear drills, called the Deterrence Strategy Committee Tabletop Exercise, are scheduled for Wednesday at the Pentagon and will involve senior defence policymakers from both sides, Seoul’s defence ministry said.
The two countries are also planning a range of expanded field exercises, including live fire drills, in coming weeks and months.
Some 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea as a legacy of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a full peace treaty, leaving the parties technically at war.
Pyongyang may have created a military unit tasked with operating new ICBMs, in line with its recent restructuring of the military, state media video footage from a Feb. 9 parade suggested.
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