(Al Jazeera) North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile, South Korea’s military has said, just days before Seoul’s presidential election.
Japan also confirmed the launch on Saturday, saying the missile flew at a maximum altitude of 550km (340 miles) and a distance of 300km (170 miles), defence minister Nobuo Kishi said.
The “extremely high frequency” of Pyongyang’s weapons tests this year were “a threat to the region” and were “absolutely unacceptable”, said Kishi.
From hypersonic to medium-range ballistic missiles, Pyongyang test-fired a string of weaponry in January and last week launched what it claimed was a component of a “reconnaissance satellite” – although Seoul described it as another ballistic missile.
Despite biting international sanctions over its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang has ignored United States offers of talks since high-profile negotiations between leader Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump collapsed in 2019.
Instead of diplomacy, Pyongyang has doubled down on Kim’s drive to modernise its military, warning in January that it could abandon a self-imposed moratorium on testing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.
South Korea’s military said it detected a presumed “ballistic missile launched into the East Sea from the Sunan area around 08:48 am”.