North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile into Sea of Japan (UPDATE2)

Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File
This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says is an intercontinental ballistic missile in a launching drill at the Sunan international airport in Pyongyang on March 16, 2023. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified.

Seoul, Dec. 18 (Jiji Press)—North Korea fired what is presumed to be a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan from Pyongyang around 10:38 p.m. Sunday local time, the South Korean military said.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also said that a ballistic missile was launched from North Korea.

The missile is believed to have fallen into waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The missile flew a distance of about 570 kilometers, according to the South Korean military. Meanwhile, the Japanese Defense Ministry said that it traveled about 400 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of some 50 kilometers.

In a statement released immediately after the launch, a North Korean defense ministry spokesperson denounced a Nuclear Consultative Group meeting in Washington on Friday, in which the U.S. and South Korean governments agreed to draw up guidelines on the planning and implementation of nuclear strategies.

The spokesperson also criticized the USS Missouri nuclear submarine’s port call in Busan, South Korea, on Sunday.

Japan, the United States and South Korea are expected to start in the near future the operation of a system allowing them to immediately share information on ballistic missile launches by North Korea.

The ballistic missile firing by North Korea on Sunday may have been intended to keep a check on the move by the three countries.

The North Korean defense ministry spokesperson said in the statement that U.S. and South Korean military gangs are trying to end the year with a rehearsal for a nuclear war.

Pyongyang will never sit idly against provocative actions, and any attempts to use weapons by hostile forces will face pre-emptive and catastrophic responses, the statement also said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed government personnel to make thorough efforts to collect and analyze information about the launch, and confirm safety.

The Japanese government condemned the ballistic missile launch, saying that it is in violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious issue that concerns the safety of Japanese people.

Tokyo also lodged a strong protest with North Korea over the launch.

North Korea launched a military reconnaissance satellite Nov. 21. The reclusive country fired a ballistic missile the following day, but the launch is believed to have failed.