Nuclear-armed North Korea fired an “unidentified projectile” into the sea off its east coast, the South Korean military said on Tuesday.
No further details were immediately available from the Southern Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A spokesman for the Japanese Defense Ministry told AFP, on condition of anonymity, that the projectile “appears to be a ballistic missile.”
The launch is the latest in a series of mixed messages from the North, coming days after leader Kim Jong Un’s influential sister Kim Yo Jong, a key adviser to his brother, raised the possibility of an inter-Korean summit.
But he insisted that “fairness” and mutual respect would be required, and called on the South to “stop making an insolent comment.”
He condemned as “double standards” the criticism of the South and the United States to the military developments of the North, while the allies build their own capabilities.
In recent days, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has only a few months left in office, reiterated in the UN General Assembly his long-standing calls for a formal declaration of the end of the War. from Korea.
The North invaded the South in 1950 and hostilities ceased three years later with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, technically still in a state of conflict.
Pyongyang is under multiple rounds of international sanctions for its banned nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
His ambassador to the United Nations insisted that he had the right to test weapons.
“No one can deny the DPRK’s right to self-defense,” Kim Song told the UN General Assembly in New York.
“We are only building our national defense to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country.”
‘Atrocious human rights abuser’
Pyongyang has already carried out several missile launches this month, one with a long-range cruise missile and another that the southern military dubbed short-range ballistic missiles.
Seoul also successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile for the first time, making it one of the few nations with advanced technology.
Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been on hold since a 2019 summit in Hanoi between leader Kim and then-President Donald Trump collapsed over sanctions relief and what the North would be willing to give up in return.
Subsequently, the North has repeatedly criticized the South and its president Moon, and has blown up a liaison office on its side of the border that Seoul had built.
“It seems that North Korea wants to see how genuine Seoul is when it comes to its willingness to improve ties between the two Koreas and officially end the Korean War,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of Korean Studies. from North Korea. he told AFP.
“Pyongyang will monitor and study Moon’s reaction after today’s launch and decide what they want to do on things like restoring the inter-Korean hotline,” he added.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that it is willing to meet with North Korean officials anywhere, anytime, without preconditions, in its efforts to seek denuclearization.
But North Korea has shown no willingness to give up its arsenal, which it says it needs to defend itself against a US invasion.
On Monday, North Korea’s Central News Agency published an article calling the United States “the world’s most egregious human rights violator” for its sanctions policies in various countries.
North Korea was also scheduled to open a session of its official parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, on Tuesday.