North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast in what would be the country’s seventh missile test this month.
Both the South Korean and Japanese governments reported the firing of a possible ballistic missile at around 7.52am (22.52 GMT) on Sunday from Jagang Province.
Officials in Tokyo said if the projectile was a standard ballistic missile it is estimated to have reached an altitude of 2,000km and flown for 30 minutes to a distance of 800km.
A threat to the international community
Jagang Province saw two other launches this month of what Pyongyang said was a “hypersonic missile” that could reach high speeds while flying and manoeuvring at relatively low altitudes.
“The ballistic missile launch and the ones before it are a threat to our country, the region and the international community,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
“This series of launches violate UN resolutions and we strongly protest this action by North Korea.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said this latest launch indicated that North Korea has moved a step closer to abandoning its self-imposed moratorium on testing long-range missiles.
He also called on North Korea to stop creating tensions and to return to talks.
North Korea’s latest missile tests
It comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for the country to bolster its military with cutting edge technology in a speech ahead of the New Year.
North Korea has conducted several missile launches since then, varying in weapon types, launch locations and showing increasing sophistication.
It has launched hypersonic and long-range cruise missiles, as well as missiles launched from railcars and airports.
Possible future tests
While North Korea has not tested its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons since 2017, its leaders earlier this month suggested they could restart such tests.
Last Thursday, it launched two short-range ballistic missiles, while an update to a long-range cruise missile system was wasted on Tuesday.