North Korea tests its first ballistic missile in 2022. PHOTO/Reuters
“The missiles were allegedly fired at around 8:10 am (2310 GMT) from an inland location on the east coast and into the sea,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
“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, without elaborating.
The test-firing comes just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in attends the groundbreaking ceremony for a railway line he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting, expressing concern the launch was “committed at a time when internal and external stability is critical” and called for North Korea to return to talks.
The Japanese coast guard, which first reported the launch, said the projectile could be a ballistic missile but gave no further details.
“Since last year, North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles, which is very regrettable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the suspected missile had flown about 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) and landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
A UN Security Council resolution prohibits all ballistic and nuclear missile tests by North Korea, and has imposed sanctions on the program. In state media’s summary of a speech Kim gave ahead of the New Year, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un did not specifically mention missiles or nuclear weapons, but said national defense should be supported.