South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement on Thursday that the North had fired a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) into the East Sea from the Wonsan area in Kangwon Province at 10:48 a.m. local time (0248 GMT).
“While strengthening our monitoring and vigilance, our military is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States,” the JCS said.
The launch on Thursday came less than two hours after North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui warned that Pyongyang would take “fiercer” military actions if Washington stuck to a decision to strengthen its “extended deterrence” commitment to regional allies.
After trilateral talks involving the US, South Korea, and Japan in Cambodia last week, US President Joe Biden affirmed his commitment to boost extended deterrence and defend allies South Korea and Japan with a “full range of capabilities,” including nuclear weapons.
The North’s top diplomat said the three countries’ “war drills for aggression” had not succeeded in reining in Pyongyang and the states would instead bring a “more serious, realistic and inevitable threat” upon themselves.
“The keener the US is on the ‘bolstered offer of extended deterrence’ to its allies and the more they intensify provocative and bluffing military activities… the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction will be,” Choe said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, referring to her country by the abbreviation of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The purported launch was the latest in a record number of such tests this year, and the North also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea recently as South Korea and the US held military drills, some of which involved Japan.
Back on November 9, Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea.
Officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapon test for the first time since 2017, but its actual timing remains unclear.
Washington and Seoul have markedly stepped up their muscle-flexing near the North’s maritime border and airspace to deter another nuclear test by Pyongyang.
North Korea considers the foreign drills near its territory to be exercises for invasion. The country is under harsh sanctions by the US and United Nations Security Council over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.