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North Korea fires ballistic missile as South gets ready for new president

North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea and Japan said, about a week after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to hasten the development of the country’s nuclear forces and days before the South’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, takes office on May 10.

The test was strongly condemned by the offices of both outgoing and incoming South Korean presidents – with Yoon’s team announcing it would prepare “more fundamental deterrent measures” – and by the United States, which determined that the launch was “a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions” and urged Pyongyang to resume dialogue over its nuclear and missile programmes. Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that “North Korea’s recent action, including frequent missile launches, cannot be tolerated, as it poses a threat to the security and safety of the region and international community.”

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the launch was detected at about noon in the Sunan area of the North’s capital of Pyongyang and the missile flew about 470 kilometres to a maximum altitude of 780 kilometres. The JCS issued a statement calling the North Korean ballistic missile tests “a grave threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean peninsula but also the international community.”

Today’s launch was the fourteenth known weapons test that North Korea conducted this year. Cheong Seong-chang, a specialist on North Korea at the Sejong Institute think tank in Seoul, noted that it showed progress in the weapons’ capability.

After breaking its 2017 moratorium on long-range missile testing, North Korea may also soon resume nuclear tests, officials in Seoul and Washington say.

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