South Korea says North fired intermediate-range ballistic missile

North Korea fired up alleged intermediate-range ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Tuesday (April 2), South Korea’s military said, in a move that sparked immediate criticism 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 a.m. (2153 GMT on Monday).

South Korea said, the missile flew about 600 kms (372 miles) before falling into sea, 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).

However 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 overlooked a ground test of a solid-fuel engine for a new type of intermediate-range hypersonic missile to develop national defence capability, as reported by the state media.

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

Notably, 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.

The authorities from US, South Korea, and Ukraine have accused North Korea of giving Russia weaponry, including missiles, to use in the war with Ukraine. Both Moscow and Pyongyang have refuted the allegation.

The foreign ministry of South Korea said on Tuesday that the country had imposed sanctions on two Russian ships that it claimed had carried armaments between North Korea and Russia as well as two Russian companies that used North Korean laborers in order to assist Pyongyang generate foreign exchange.

Addressing the media, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned North Korea for Tuesday’s missile launch that affected the peace and stability of the region.

Last month North Korea remarked 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.

(With inputs from agencies)

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