Seoul, January 14: North Korea fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) into the East Sea on Sunday, South Korea's military said, in Pyongyang's first missile launch this year. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from an area in or around Pyongyang at about 2:55 p.m. and the missile flew around 1,000 kilometers before splashing into the sea, Yonhap news agency reported.

The JCS strongly condemned the launch, calling it a "clear provocative act," adding that it shared data on the North Korean missile with U.S. and Japanese authorities, with an analysis on its specifications under way. North Korea Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile, Says Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Office.

"Under a firm South Korea-US combined defense posture, our military will closely monitor North Korea's various activities and maintain capabilities and readiness to overwhelmingly respond to any provocation," it said. The latest launch took place amid heightened tensions after North Korea fired artillery shells near the inter-Korean maritime border in the Yellow Sea from Jan. 5 to 7.

The firing prompted the South to stage live-fire drills from its northwestern border islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong for the first time in over six years. North Korea Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile, Tweets Japan PMO.

The launch also came just before North Korean state media said its Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui will visit Russia from Monday through Wednesday in the latest sign of growing bilateral ties.

Seoul and Washington have accused Pyongyang of delivering arms to Moscow after the North's leader Kim Jong-un traveled to Russia's Far East in September for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jan 14, 2024 07:55 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website