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North Korea fires missile as Vice President Harris visits Korea and Japan

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast on Sunday, the South Korean military said, ahead of joint military exercises between U.S. and South Korean forces and a visit by the vice -President Harris.

The missile was launched by North Korea from the Taecheon area in North Pyongan province at around 6:53 a.m. local time, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, flying about 373 miles and reaching an elevation of about 38 miles.

South Korean officials said on Saturday there were signs that North Korea was preparing to test a missile fired by a submarine, Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year as it expands its weapons program. The latest launch came as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan arrived in South Korea for joint military exercises designed to show strength and act as a deterrent against any nuclear threat.

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Speaking ahead of Harris’ visit to the region this week, a senior US administration official said such a missile test timed to coincide with his trip “would result in further action by the United States to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea.” and to our Japanese allies.

The vice president is expected to discuss with her South Korean counterparts the growing North Korean threat and show solidarity with Seoul.

“We have made it clear how concerned we are about provocations and destabilizing behavior by North Korea, and a nuclear test would certainly fall into that category,” the administration official said in a call with officials. journalists.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative who took office in May, has pledged to work more closely with the United States in response to North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile capability. The allies conducted their largest field exercises in five years this summer.

Harris is due to arrive in South Korea this week after attending the state funeral of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida issued instructions after the missile was launched on Sunday to “ensure the safety of planes, ships and other assets” and take all precautionary measures.

North Korea usually reacts angrily to joint exercises between South Korea and the United States, calling them “invasion rehearsals.” Allies say the drills are defensive in nature, while Pyongyang has used them to justify its weapons development.

The return of the USS Ronald Reagan to South Korea and Harris’ upcoming trip have put Pyongyang on high alert, said Soo Kim, a political analyst at Rand Corp. in Washington because North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “does not want to be geopolitically overshadowed”.

“With the spotlight on the U.S.-Korea alliance… it might have been necessary for North Korea to fire a missile to reaffirm its relevance and express [Kim’s] disdain towards the United States and South Korea,” she said.

washingtonpost Gt

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