North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea, blames US for destabilizing region

North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the sea on Sunday, South Korea said, as Pyongyang blamed the U.S. for escalating military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The missile was fired off North Korea’s east coast near its capital of Pyongyang and flew 354 miles (570 kilometers) before landing in the sea, 

The Japanese Coast Guard said the missile had fallen less than 20 minutes after its launch, Reuters reported.

The South criticized the launch as a “clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions that have banned the North from using ballistic technologies.

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North Korea launched a ballistic missile, like the one pictured above, into the sea on Sunday in an apparent show of defiance against recent military cooperation between the U.S. and South Korea. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea’s Defense Ministry issued a statement shortly after the launch but did not mention the ballistic missile.

Instead, the ministry criticized the U.S. for what it called a “reckless military threat” that was destabilizing the region, referring to the U.S. deployment of military assets, including strategic bombers and nuclear-powered submarines, to South Korea.

North Korea missile launch TV coverage in South Korea

Since the start of 2022, North Korea has test-fired more than 100 missiles. (AP/Lee Jin-man, File)

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“The armed forces of the DPRK will thoroughly neutralize the U.S. and its vassal forces’ attempt to ignite a nuclear war and thus reliably ensure peace and security in the Korean peninsula,” a ministry spokesman said in a statement obtained by Reuters.

Pyongyang also condemned Washington’s and Seoul’s move to include nuclear operation scenarios in their joint drills, describing it as an open threat to potentially use nuclear weapons against the North and vowing to prepare unspecified “offensive countermeasures.”

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un addresses public navy headquarters

North Korea blamed the U.S. for destabilizing the Korean Peninsula. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has criticized the U.S., South Korea and Japan for strengthening their combined military exercises. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

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The North has test-fired more than 100 missiles since the start of 2022 as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used the distraction caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine to speed up the expansion of his military nuclear program, which he sees as his strongest guarantee of survival.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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