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North Korea test launches missile on eve of US vice president's trip to Seoul

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Associated Press Reporter

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile towards South Korea’s eastern waters, officials said, a day before US vice president Kamala Harris is to visit the South.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the North Korean missile launch but gave no further details, such as when and where the weapon was fired and how far it travelled.

The launch is the second by North Korea this week.

Ms Harris is to arrive in South Korea on Thursday for talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol and other officials.

She is also to visit the tense border with North Korea, in what US officials call an attempt to underscore the strength of the US-South Korean alliance and the US commitment to “stand beside” South Korea in the face of any North Korean threats.

US and South Korean navy ships are also conducting drills off South Korea’s east coast in a show of force against North Korea.

The four-day exercise, which began on Monday, involves the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

It is the first training exercise by the allies involving a US aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula since 2017.

South Korea-US joint military exercises often draw a furious response from North Korea, which views them as an invasion rehearsal.

A short-range North Korean missile launched on Sunday was seen as a response to the US-South Korean training.

North Korea has dialled up its testing activities to a record pace in 2022, testing more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017.

North Korea is exploiting a divide in the United Nations Security Council that deepened over Russia’s war against Ukraine to speed up its arms development.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has threatened repeatedly that his country will proactively use its nuclear weapons if threatened, increasing security concerns in conventionally armed South Korea.

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