North Korea fires suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile

North Korea fires suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile


It flew about 600 kms, South Korea said while Japan estimated it covered 650 kms before falling

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SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday, South Korea's military said, in a move that sparked immediate condemnation from the prime minister of Japan.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that it detected the launch of what appeared to be a ballistic missile of an intermediate-range class from the area of the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Tuesday at 0653 am (2153 GMT on Monday).

It flew about 600 kms (372 miles) before falling into sea, South Korea said, while Japan's defence ministry estimated it covered a distance of 650 km (400 miles) and hit a maximum altitude of 100 km (62 miles).

The statement from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff did not specify the exact type of missile, but North Korea has been testing a new intermediate-range hypersonic missile powered by a solid-fuel engine.

In March, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a ground test of a solid-fuel engine for a new type of intermediate-range hypersonic missile to develop national defence capability, state media reported.

Japan said the missile appeared to have fallen outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Amid concerns Russia and North Korea are developing closer military links, the United States and its major Asian allies South Korea and Japan are expanding security cooperation.

Officials in the United States, South Korea and Ukraine have accused North Korea of providing weapons such as missiles to Russia for use in the Ukraine war. Pyongyang and Moscow have denied the allegations.

South Korea announced sanctions on two Russian vessels that it said had transported munitions between North Korea and Russia, and two Russian organisations involved in hiring North Korean workers to help Pyongyang earn foreign currency, South Korea's foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea for Tuesday's missile launch that affected the peace and stability of the region, he told reporters.

North Korea recently said it had no interest in a summit with Japan and would reject any talks, potentially worsening already-hostile relations between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the United States government is arranging a summit between President Joe Biden and his Japanese and South Korean counterparts in July on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Washington, Japanese media outlets reported.