The South Korean military claimed that North Korea fired a suspected long-range ballistic missile into the East Sea on Wednesday. The claims come amid heightened tensions following Pyongyang’s accusations against the operation of a US spy plane earlier this week.
According to a Yonhap news agency report, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected a launch from Pyongyang or its vicinity at around 10 a.m. local time.
“While strengthening our surveillance and vigilance, our forces are maintaining full readiness in close cooperation with the United States,” the JCS said. North Korea’s last long-range missile launch was on April 13, when it launched the Hwasong-18 solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. On Monday and Tuesday, Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, issued scathing statements claiming that a US military spy plane had “intruded” into the North’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Kim Yo-jong warned that the North would take “clear and firm” action against US surveillance flights within its “economic waters” in what could be a “shocking” incident. The South Korean military rejected his comments and said freedom of navigation and overflight was ensured in the EEZ.
The alleged missile launch by North Korea comes at a time when several high-level global diplomatic and security meetings are taking place this week. These include the NATO summit in Lithuania and the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting in Indonesia. At the NATO summit, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is expected to discuss security cooperation against North Korea’s military threats with other leaders.