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North Korea fires ballistic missile

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North Korea has launched yet another ballistic missile in the direction of Japan, part of a string of recent test-firings as the North works to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the US.

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The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch was made from North Phyongan province. Other details are scarce. It isn’t immediately clear if this was a routine firing of a short-range missile or an attempt to perfect North Korea’s longer-range missiles.

Just last week South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump focused much of their first meeting on opposing North Korea’s development of atomic weapons that threaten both allies.

Japan’s government said the missile is believed to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan but no damage to ships or aircraft in the area has been reported.

China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, warned on Monday that further escalation of already high tensions with North Korea risks getting out of control, “and the consequences would be disastrous.”

US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to warn that Japan and South Korea would not tolerate the North Korean behaviour for much longer and expressing hope that China would “put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all”.

The Korean Peninsula has been divided between the American-backed South and the authoritarian North since the 1950-53 Korean War. Worries have increased as the North’s leader Kim Jong Un pushes to expand his nuclear arsenal and develop ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

Tuesday’s launch is the first by the North since a June 8 test of a new type of cruise missile that Pyongyang says is capable of striking US and South Korean warships “at will.”

Since taking office on May 10, Moon has tried to improve strained ties with North Korea, but the North has continued its missile tests. Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons and powerful missiles to cope with what it calls rising US military threats.

– with AP

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