North Korea fires ‘unidentified projectile’ towards east: Seoul

The launch is the 14th this year as Pyongyang ratchets up the diplomatic pressure on its regional neighbours and the US.

North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile towards its east coast, according to South Korea’s military, about a week after the North said it would develop its nuclear capabilities “at the fastest possible speed”.

“North Korea fired an unidentified projectile eastward,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, without giving further details.

The launch is the North’s 14th weapons test this year, and comes less than a week before South Korea’s newly elected President Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative, is due to be sworn into office. Pyongyang last month tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since 2017, as it ratchets up the diplomatic pressure on its regional neighbours and the United States.

The JCS gave no details about the projectile, including its flight range and altitude, but Japan’s Coast Guard said it could be a ballistic missile.

NK News, a media organisation focused on North Korea, said it had obtained photographs showing a plume of white smoke against a blue sky with a vertical trajectory. The projectile was launched from the Pyongyang area and flew for about 20 minutes, it added.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised to speed up the development of his country’s nuclear arsenal as he watched a huge military parade to mark the anniversary of the founding of the army.

Denuclearisation talks with the United States remain stalled.

Yoon is expected to take a more hawkish approach to the North than his predecessor Moon Jae-in.