SEOUL [South Korea]: A short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) test-fired by North Korea on Sunday flew a distance of 400 km, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported citing the country's military.
The missile was launched from Pyongyang's Ryongsong area at 2.50 am (local time), according to Yonhap. The missile, the first to be test-fired by the Kim Jong-un regime in 2023, was fired into the Sea of Japan and flew some 400 km before splashing into the sea, Yonhap quoted the South Korean military as saying.
According to North Korea observers, as quoted by the Yonhap report, the Sunday exercise appeared to be another response to Seoul's test launch of a homegrown solid-propellant space rocket on Friday. The US Indo-Pacific Command issuing a statement said it is aware of the ballistic missile launch which highlights the destabilising impact of North Korea's ballistic missile programs.
"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, alongside the three launches conducted less than 24 hours ago, highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs," the statement posted on its Twitter handle read.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said US commitments to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad. This latest launch comes as North Korean leader Kim vowed to increase the production of nuclear warheads "exponentially" and build a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, state media KCNA reported.
"Now that the South Korean puppet forces who designated the DPRK as their principal army and openly trumpet about preparations for war have assumed our undoubted enemy, it highlights the importance and necessity of a mass-producing of tactical nuclear weapons and calls for an exponential increase of the country's nuclear arsenal," the report on 6th Enlarged Plenary Meeting of 8th Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee read, as quoted by KCNA Watch.
In its own announcement, the North said it fired "super-large" calibre artillery shells on Saturday and Sunday in sample tests. The multiple rocket launcher system has been presented to the ruling Workers' Party of Korea during its key plenary session, the KCNA reported.
Kim Jong-un said the 600-mm super-large shells can be loaded with tactical nuclear warheads with the entire South in range, the KCNA added. The South's military categorizes such super-large multiple rocket launchers as SRBMs, given their ranges and trajectories.
The JCS denounced the North's latest missile launch as an act of "significant provocation" that harms peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community, and a "clear" breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
"Our military will maintain a solid readiness posture based on capabilities to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocations," Yonhap quoted the JCS' text message sent to the media. On Saturday, North Korea test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan. The missiles were launched from Chunghwa County in North Korea's North Hwanghae Province at around 8 a.m. local time, Yonhap said.
Citing Japan's Defence Ministry, the Japanese Kyodo news agency said that the three ballistic missiles flew over a distance of 350 km, reaching a maximum altitude of 100 km.
All of the missiles landed outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. The North launched around 70 ballistic missiles last year alone, the Yonhap report said.