(2nd LD) N. Korea fires an apparent ballistic missile toward East Sea: JCS
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout; RECASTS headline, lead)
By Song Sang-ho and Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Wednesday fired what appears to be a ballistic missile toward the East Sea, South Korea's military said, in the recalcitrant regime's first show of force this year.
The North launched the missile eastward at around 8:10 a.m. from a land-based platform, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said without further elaboration.
"For additional information, the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting a detailed analysis," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
South Korea's military in cooperation with the U.S. is closely watching related North Korean movements and maintaining a readiness posture against the possibility of the North's additional launches, the JCS said.
It marks the North's first projectile launch since the regime fired off a new submarine-launched ballistic missile in October last year.
The latest saber-rattling came just days after the North concluded a five-day Central Committee plenary of the ruling Workers' Party on Friday, highlighting its key focus on economic issues and its pandemic response.
At the plenary, participants stressed the importance of boosting their country's defense capabilities, pointing to the growing instability of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not issue any particular messages for the South or the United States at the gathering, but the latest launch appears aimed partially at raising the stakes for future talks with the allies, analysts said.
Wednesday's launch could also be part of the North's wintertime drills, some observers said.
The launch came amid expectations the North could refrain from major strategic provocations that could undermine the mood for peace in the lead-up to the Beijing Winter Olympics slated for next month.
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