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North Korea fires ballistic missile: Seoul

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Kim Jong Un oversaw a massive military parade, pledging to rapidly expand and improve his nuclear arsenal. AFP

North Korea fires ballistic missile: Seoul

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday, Seoul said, a week after Kim Jong-un vowed to boost Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal and just days before the South inaugurates a new, hawkish president.

North Korea fired the ballistic missile at 12:03 pm (0303 GMT), Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, likely from the Sunan Airfield near Pyongyang, the site of previous recent ICBM tests.

The missile flew 470km and reached an altitude of 780km, the JCS said, adding it was a “blatant violation of UN Security Council resolutions”.

The Wednesday test comes days before the May 10 inauguration of South Korea’s President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed to take a hard line with North Korea and ramp up security cooperation with the US after years of failed diplomacy.

Japan’s state minister of defence Makoto Oniki confirmed the launch and the missile’s trajectory, saying it had landed “outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone”.

Pyongyang has conducted 14 weapons tests since January, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full-range for the first time since 2017.

Last week, while overseeing a huge military parade, North Korean leader Kim vowed to develop his nuclear forces “at the fastest possible speed” and warned of possible “pre-emptive” strikes.

Meanwhile, satellite imagery indicates he may soon resume nuclear testing.

Analysts said Kim’s messaging on his nuclear weapons, plus the recent test could be seen as a signal toYoon, who has threatened a pre-emptive strike on Pyongyang.

“It could be a warning message to . . . Yoon,” said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification.

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