North Korea launches a suspected long-range ballistic missile: Seoul’s military
SEOUL, July 12 (IANS) North Korea has launched a suspected long-range ballistic missile toward the East Sea, amid tensions stemming from Pyongyang’s accusations against US spy plane operations earlier this week, the South Korean military said.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from an area in or around Pyongyang at around 10 a.m. (local time) without further details, according to Yonhap news agency.
“With our enhanced surveillance and vigilance, our Army maintains a state of full readiness in close cooperation with the United States,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
North Korea’s last long-range missile launch took place on April 13, when it launched a Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.
On Monday and Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued sharp-tongued statements claiming that US military spy planes “invaded” the area above North Korea’s exclusive economic zone.
Kim Yo Jong has warned that North Korea will take “clear and decisive” measures against US surveillance flights within North Korea’s “economic water zone”, claiming that a “terrible” incident may occur.
The South Korean military denied her statements, saying that freedom of navigation and overflight is guaranteed in the exclusive economic zone.
The latest launch came as major diplomatic and security gatherings take place this week, including the ongoing NATO summit in Lithuania and the ASEAN Regional Forum in Indonesia.
At the NATO summit, South Korean President Yoon Sok-yol is expected to discuss security cooperation against North Korea’s military threats with other leaders.
North Korea’s uproar also came after its failed launch of a space rocket carrying its first military reconnaissance satellite in late May.
North Korean state media said the missile fell into the Yellow Sea after an abnormal start-up of the second-stage engine.