N. Korea fires short-range ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

People watch a TV report about North Korea firing a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast, in Seoul on Sunday.

SEOUL — North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan around 6:53 a.m. Sunday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The missile was launched from near the Taechon area in North Pyongan Province. The projectile flew about 600 kilometers at an altitude of about 60 kilometers and at a top speed of Mach 5, the South Korean military said.

The USS Ronald Reagan has since Friday been making a port visit in the southern South Korean city of Busan. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier will be part of joint exercises with the South Korean Navy in the Sea of Japan later this month. North Korea may have reacted against such moves by Washington and Seoul.

This was the first ballistic missile launch by North Korea since June 5, when eight missiles were fired from four different locations.

Outside Japan’s EEZ

In Tokyo, the Defense Ministry said the missile fell in the Sea of Japan but outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave Japanese government officials instructions, such as making all efforts to gather and analyze information and taking every possible measure to prepare for unforeseen circumstances.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada strongly condemned North Korea’s missile launch, saying to reporters at the ministry, “It can’t be overlooked for the security of our country and the region.”

He also said Tokyo lodged a protest against Pyongyang through diplomatic channels. No damage to aircraft or vessels has been confirmed.