North Korea fires ballistic missile into Sea of Japan: what happened and could it lead to nuclear weapon test?
The firing of a ballistic missile is the latest in a series of provocative weapons tests from Pyongyang
North Korea has fired at least one unidentified projectile toward its eastern sea, in its second launch this week.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say whether the projectile was ballistic or how far it flew.
The move apparently continued a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations that may culminate with a nuclear test in the coming weeks or months.
The missile was likely launched from a submarine into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, South Korean authorities said on Saturday.
It was fired at 2.07pm local time from the Sinpo area of North Korea's east coast, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Japanese coast guard confirmed the projectile fell into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, at 2.25pm local time.
The launch came three days after South Korea and Japan’s militaries detected North Korea firing a suspected ballistic missile from near its capital, Pyongyang, on Wednesday.
It was done three days before the inauguration of South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk Yeol, who has vowed to take a tougher approach over the North’s nuclear ambitions.
Why did North Korea fire the missile?
The latest launch was likely North Korea’s 15th round of missile firings this year, an unusually fast pace that experts say underscores a brinkmanship aimed at forcing the US to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and remove crippling sanctions.
By comparison, North Korea conducted only four tests in 2020, and eight in 2021.
There are also signs the North is restoring tunnels at a nuclear testing ground that was last active in 2017 in possible preparations for a nuclear explosive test.
At a military parade on 25 April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to ramp up his development of nuclear arms at the "highest possible" speed.