North Korea detonates ballistic missile ahead of US VP Harris trip

North Korea has detonated a ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast.

This comes ahead of planned military drills by South Korean and US forces pertaining to an aircraft carrier and a visit to the region by US Vice President Kamala Harris.

According to South Korea’s military on Sunday, it was a single, short-range ballistic missile shot from near the Taechon area of North Pyongyan Province just before 7 am [local time].

Japan’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan calculated it reached maximum altitude at 50 km and may have flown on an irregular trajectory.

Hamada address that it fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of problems with shipping or air traffic.

In recent years, many of the short-range missiles tested by North Korea have been formulated to avoid missile defences by driving during flight and flying on a lower, “depressed” trajectory, according to experts.

“If you include launches of cruise missiles this is the nineteenth launch, which is an unprecedented pace. North Korea’s action represent a threat to the peace and security of our country, the region and the international community and to do this as the Ukraine invasion unfolds is unforgivable,” Hamada said.

He also said Japan had delivered a protest through North Korea’s embassy in Beijing.

According to the US Asia-pacific Command, it was conscious of the launch and reviewing closely with allies.

The acknowledgement came in a statement released after the launch, while reaffirming US commitment to the defence of South Korea and Japan.

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilising impact of the DPRK’s unlawful Weapons of Mass Destruction and ballistic missile programs.” The statement read.

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