DPRK fires unidentified ballistic missile off east coast: S.Korea
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired an unidentified ballistic missile off its east coast Wednesday morning, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
The South Korean military spotted the unidentified ballistic missile, which was launched from the waters northeast of the DPRK's eastern coastal town of Wonsan in the eastern direction at about 7:11am local time, the JCS said in a statement.
It was estimated to have been a Pukkuksong type of submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the JCS said.
The missile flew about 450 km at a maximum flying altitude of around 910 km. The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States were precisely analyzing its further details.
If confirmed it would be the DPRK's first SLBM test-launch in over three years since August 24, 2016. At the time, the Pukkuksong-1, also dubbed KN-11, successfully traveled some 500 km in the East Sea.
The JCS said the South Korean military was monitoring relevant situation in case of additional firings and maintaining readiness posture.
It urged Pyongyang to immediately stop such acts that are of no help to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Chung Eui-yong, top national security advisor for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, chaired an emergency video conference of the National Security Council (NSC) standing committee members, according to the presidential Blue House.
The NSC decided to precisely analyze the DPRK projectile via close cooperation between the intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States, with a possibility being in mind that the DPRK might have test-fired an SLBM.
The NSC expressed strong concerns over the DPRK's missile test-firing, which came ahead of the resumption of the denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
Choe Son Hui, the DPRK's first vice foreign minister, said in a statement on Tuesday that Pyongyang and Washington agreed to have preliminary contact Friday and working-level negotiations the following day.
The NSC decided to make diplomatic efforts with the international community, including the United States, for the success of the DPRK-US negotiations that can lead to a substantive progress in the complete denuclearization of and the permanent peace settlement in the Korean Peninsula, according to the Blue House.
The second summit between top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump was held in February at the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, but it ended without any agreement.
Kim and Trump held an impromptu meeting in late June at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, agreeing to restart the working-level denuclearization negotiations set to be launched later this week.
Wednesday's test-firing was the DPRK's 11th test-launch of projectiles this year. The latest one occurred on September 10 when Pyongyang fired short-range projectiles from what it called a "super-large" multiple rocket launcher.
It came a day after South Korea officially showcased its F-35 stealth fighter jets for the first time during a ceremony for the Armed Forces Day.
South Korea has so far introduced eight of the US-made F-35A fighters under a plan to deploy 40 F-35As by 2021.
The DPRK denounced the deployment as a military buildup targeting Pyongyang and a violation of the inter-Korean comprehensive military agreement last year to halt hostile acts against each other.