North Korea fired a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile into the sea on Sunday, South Korea’s military said, two months after the North claimed to have tested engines for a new harder-to-detect missile capable of striking distant U.S. targets in the region.
The launch was the North’s first this year. Experts say North Korea could ramp up its provocative missile tests as a way to influence the results of South Korea’s parliamentary elections in April and the U.S. presidential election in November.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected the launch of a ballistic missile of an intermediate-range class from the North’s capital region on Sunday afternoon. It said the missile flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch a provocation that poses a serious threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula. It said South Korea’s military will maintain its readiness to overwhelmingly respond to any provocations by North Korea.