North Korea fires long-range missile into sea in protest at military drills set to be staged by South Korea and US
A North Korean missile landed in the Sea of Japan this morning after Pyongyang threatened an "unprecedented" response to Western allies' rumoured military drills in the region.
The long-range ballistic missile was fired at 5.22pm (8.28am UK time) from Pyongyang's international airport, South Korean army officials said.
The rocket landed around 125 miles (201km) west of northwestern Oshima Island, according to Tokyo's vice minister for defence Toshiro Ino, and within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
North Korea had vowed "unprecedently" strong action against "arch-criminal" states after South Korea announced a series of military drills with the US over the coming months.
Kim Jong Un attended a large-scale military parade on the streets of Pyongyang last week, as troops rolled out more than a dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) - the largest haul ever held by North Korea.
It signalled a continuation of expansion of Pyongyang's military capabilities despite limited resources, while negotiations with American officials remain at a stalemate.
Experts suggested the stunt may be related to Mr Kim's stated desire to build a solid-fuel ICBM. That would allow for less preparation time before launches and greater vehicle portability, making transportation less obvious.
It is not known what type of missile was fired today.
Ewha Womans University international studies professor Leif-Eric Easley told AP: "North Korean missile firings are often tests of technologies under development, and it will be notable if Pyongyang claims progress with a long-range solid-fuel missile."
Last year North Korea fired more than 70 ballistic missiles, including ICBMs with potential reach to hit mainland America.
Pyongyang's army also simulated nuclear attacks against South Korean and US targets after the allied nations resumed large-scale drills following COVID and former US president Donald Trump's attempt to court Mr Kim.
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The North Korean leader has vowed to double down on his nuclear push this year, calling for an "exponential increase" in the country's nuclear warheads, mass production of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons targeting "enemy" South Korea and the development of more advanced ICBMs.
A North Korean statement on Friday accused Washington and Seoul of planning more than 20 rounds of military drills this year, including large-scale field exercises.
The statement came hours after South Korea's defence ministry officials briefed politicians that Seoul and Washington will hold an annual computer-simulated combined training in mid-March.
In December, Japan made a major break from its defence-only post-Second World War principle, adopting a new national security strategy that includes pre-emptive strikes and cruise missiles to counter growing threats from North Korea, China and Russia.