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North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of US Vice President Harris’ visit

SEOUL — North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast on Sunday, ahead of planned military exercises by South Korean and U.S. forces involving an aircraft carrier and a visit to the Vice President’s region. American Kamala Harris.

The South Korean military said it was a single short-range ballistic missile fired from near the Taechon area in North Pyongyan province just before 7 a.m.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan believes he reached the maximum altitude at 50 km and may have flown on an irregular path. Hamada said it was outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of navigation or air traffic problems.

Many of the short-range missiles tested by North Korea in recent years were designed to evade missile defenses by maneuvering during flight and flying in a lower, “depressed” trajectory, experts said.

“If you include the cruise missile launches, this is the nineteenth launch, which is an unprecedented rate. North Korea’s action poses a threat to the peace and security of our country, of the region and the international community and to do so while the invasion of Ukraine is unfolding is unforgivable,” Hamada said, adding that Japan had protested through the North Korean embassy in Beijing. . .

The launch comes after the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea to participate in joint exercises with South Korean forces, and ahead of a planned visit to Seoul this week by Harris.

It was the first time the North had carried out such a launch after firing eight short-range ballistic missiles in one day in early June, leading the United States to seek more sanctions for violating Security Council resolutions. the UN.

North Korea rejects UN resolutions as a violation of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized previous joint exercises by the United States and South Korea as evidence of their hostile policies.

The drills have also been criticized by Russia and China, which have called on all parties not to take steps that escalate tensions in the region, and called for an easing of sanctions.

After North Korea conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests earlier this year, including its intercontinental ballistic missiles for the first time since 2017, the United States and South Korea said they would strengthen joint exercises and military displays of power to deter Pyongyang.

“Defense drills are not going to prevent North Korean missile testing,” said Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international affairs at Ewha University in Seoul.

But U.S.-South Korean security cooperation helps deter a North Korean attack and counter coercion from Pyongyang, and allies must not let provocations prevent them from conducting military training and exchanges needed to maintain the alliance. , he added.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Saturday that North Korea may also be preparing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile, citing the South Korean military.

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