North Korea launched “what could be a ballistic missile” into the sea on Tuesday, the latest in a series of missile launches conducted by the communist nation that have raised the alarms of neighboring nations.
The South Korean government called an emergency National Security Council meeting during which it expressed concern over the North’s “short-range missile launch,” according to NPR. South Korea’s military had reported that the projectile was fired from North Korea’s Jagang province, a mountainous region in the north. The missile flew toward the sea off the nation’s eastern coast, South Korean authorities said.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that they were aware of the launch and that it “does not pose an immediate threat” to the United States or U.S. allies.
“We are aware of the missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” the statement read. “The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his country bolstered its vigilance and surveillance in the wake of the launch, warning North Korea fired “what could be a ballistic missile.”
If it was a ballistic missile, the launch would violate a United Nations Security Council ban on North Korean airborne military activities; however, the U.N. usually doesn’t respond with additional sanctions for short-range launches.
The launch comes just days after Kim Yo Jong, the sister to North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Un, contacted Seol, South Korea, to facilitate talks between the neighboring nations.
Also on Tuesday, North Korean Ambassador Kim Song said in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly that testing missiles is necessary so that country can develop a “war deterrent” to stave off U.S. threats.
“The possible outbreak of a new war on the Korean Peninsula is contained not because of the U.S.’s mercy on the DPRK, it is because our state is growing a reliable deterrent that can control the hostile forces in an attempted military invasion,” Kim said, referring North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
Earlier this month, North Korea launched two more ballistic missiles off the nation’s coast toward Japan, leading Japan’s prime minister to condemn the move as “absolutely outrageous.”
“The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous,” said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to The Associated Press. “The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”