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(3rd LD) N. Korea fires 1 ballistic missile toward East Sea: S. Korean military

Defense 15:49 May 04, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with related analysis in paras 5-6, 10-11; ADDS byline)
By Song Sang-ho and Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, in the recalcitrant regime's latest saber-rattling that comes less than a week before President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol's inauguration.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at 12:03 p.m. and that the missile flew 470 kilometers at a top altitude of 780 km and speed of Mach 11.

The JCS urged the North to immediately stop its ballistic missile tests, criticizing them as a "clear" breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a "grave threat" that undermines peace on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

"Our military is tracking and monitoring related movements to prepare against the possibility of an additional launch, and it is maintaining a full readiness posture," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.

During a parliamentary hearing, Defense Minister nominee Lee Jong-sup said the latest launch might have involved an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a shorter-range one.

Military authorities here are said to presume that the North launched the Hwasong-15 ICBM in a test that can be disguised as a "reconnaissance satellite" launch.

Shortly after the launch, JCS Chairman Gen. Won In-choul held video talks with Gen. Paul LaCamera, the chief of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, and reaffirmed their efforts to ensure a firm combined defense posture, according to the JCS.

The latest launch marks the North's 14th show of force this year. It came after the North test-fired what it claimed to be a tactical guided weapon on April 16.

Concerns have persisted that the North could continue to carry out provocations, such as another ICBM launch or a nuclear test.

Meanwhile, Liu Xiaoming, China's top nuclear envoy, reiterated Beijing's "consistent" support for a "nuclear-free" Korean Peninsula when asked to comment on the North's missile launch. He was in Seoul for talks with his counterpart here.

"First, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Second, we work for peace and stability. Third, that issue should be resolved by peaceful means," the envoy told reporters.

This Feb. 27, 2022, file photo shows a news report on North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile being aired on a television at Seoul Station. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr

ejkim@yna.co.kr
(END)

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