North Korea launches new ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan

A dozen North Korean aircraft flew over the vicinity of the border with South Korea prior to the launch

Japan condemns the launch and convenes its emergency team to advance investigations into what happened

North Korea’s military launched an unspecified ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan — known as the East Sea in South Korea — on Thursday, early Friday morning already in Pyongyang, South Korean military sources have denounced.

This launch, which occurred at around 2:00 a.m. (local time), came after a dozen North Korean military aircraft flew threateningly over territory near the border with South Korea. These maneuvers were responded by Seoul with the deployment of F-35 fighters to the border and other military assets.

This was confirmed by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), which later added that the North Korean military in turn fired some 170 artillery rounds into maritime “buffer zones” established under a 2018 inter-Korean military de-escalation agreement, as reported by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

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Seoul has detailed that it has detected around 130 artillery shots toward the Yellow Sea — between China and the Korean Peninsula — and approximately 40 shots toward the East Sea — between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese archipelago.

The JCS has criticized this firing as a “clear” violation of the Comprehensive Military Agreement (CMA), signed by both Seoul and Pyongyang in 2018 to reduce tensions, as the firing has occurred on the maritime border delineated under the pact.

“These continued provocations by North Korea are acts that undermine peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula, but also in the international community,” the JCS has said in a message to reporters, picked up by the aforementioned agency. “With regard to this, we gravely warn (the North) and strongly urge it to stop them immediately,” the message continued.

The new escalation of the conflict has quickly received the response of the Japanese Defense Ministry, which has accused Pyongyang of “unilaterally escalating” tensions. “It is unacceptable,” said Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

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Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has convened a meeting of the emergency team to gather as much information as possible about what happened and to confirm any possible damage caused by the North Korean missile, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Already on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un himself oversaw the deployment of two long-range ballistic missiles, which flew over the waters of the Sea of Japan and finally hit their target 2,000 kilometers away.

In recent weeks North Korea has launched several ballistic missiles in tests banned by UN Security Council resolutions, in response to U.S.-Korean military maneuvers it considers a rehearsal for invasion.

In the early hours of October 4, Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japanese territory to land in the Pacific Ocean, outside Japanese airspace, an event that had not occurred since 2017.

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