North Korea fired a ballistic missile at its eastern waters on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, a day before US Vice President Kamala Harris is due to visit the south.
South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said they spotted the North Korean missile launch but gave no further details, such as when and where the weapon was fired and how far it traveled.
The launch is North Korea’s second this week. Harris is scheduled to arrive in South Korea Thursday for talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol and other officials. She will also visit the tense border with North Korea, in what US officials say is an attempt to underscore the strength of the US-South Korean alliance and the US commitment to “stand by its side” with South Korea in the face of any North Korean threats.
US and South Korean naval vessels are also conducting drills off the east coast of South Korea in a show of force against North Korea.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is participating in the four-day exercise that began Monday. It is the first Allied training exercise involving a US aircraft carrier near the Korean peninsula since 2017.
Joint military exercises between South Korea and the US often draw an angry reaction from North Korea, which sees them as an invasion test. A North Korean short-range missile fired on Sunday was seen as a response to US-South Korean training.
North Korea ramped up its testing activities to a record pace in 2022, testing more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first ICBMs since 2017. North Korea is exploiting a rift in the United Nations Security Council that has deepened over Russia’s war in Ukraine, and its arms development accelerate.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly threatened that his country will proactively use its nuclear weapons if threatened, adding to security concerns in conventionally armed South Korea.