North Korea fires missile on New Year’s Day

KCNA via Reuters
North Korean leader leader Kim Jong Un attends the 12th Meeting of the Political Bureau of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released on Dec. 31 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast the early hours of Sunday, in a rare late-night, New Year’s Day weapons test, the South Korean military said.

The move came not even 24 hours after North Korea launched three ballistic missiles on Saturday, capping a year when the isolated country conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests.

The latest missile flew about 400 kilometers (249 miles)after being fired around 2:50 a.m. local time (1750 GMT) from the Ryongsongarea of the capital Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

We strongly condemn North Korea’s series of missile tests which are grave provocations that hurt peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the international community, the JCS said, urging Pyongyang to stop them immediately.

Japan’s coast guard said the missile reached an altitude of around 100 km and flew around 350 km before landing outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that Tokyo had protested to North Korea over the launch via diplomatic channels in Beijing.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that while the launch did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to Washington’s allies, it highlighted the destabilizing impact of North Korea’s weapons program.

North Korea fired an unprecedented number of missiles in 2022, pressing on with weapons development amid speculation it could test a nuclear weapon for a seventh time.

In 2022, the North also resumed testing intercontinental ballistic missiles for the first time since 2017, successfully launching the massive new Hwasong-17, which is believed to have the range to strike anywhere in the United States.

The latest launch came as Pyongyang’s ruling Workers’ party held a key meeting, which leader Kim Jong Un had previously used to make major policy announcements for the new year.

State media said Kim unveiled new goals for the country’s military at the meeting, without elaborating, with the participants working on a draft resolution on the fifth day session on Friday.