North Korea fires ballistic missile days after Kim Jong Un's vow

North Korea fires ballistic missile days after Kim Jong Un's vow

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday, South Korea's military said on Wednesday, just a week after leader Kim Jong Un pledged to boost Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal at the fastest possible speed. The launch came after US and South Korean officials warned that Pyongyang was about to resume nuclear testing.

One ballistic missile fired by North Korea today at 1203 0303 GMT from around Sunan to the East Sea of Japan was detected, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Our military is currently monitoring movements in preparation for additional launches by tracking and monitoring related movements. Japan's Coast Guard also said that North Korea had a potential ballistic missile. The nuclear-armed state staged a dramatic return to long-range launches in March, testing-firing its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile at full range, which may be able to reach the continental United States.

Such tests had been paused while Kim met then-US President Donald Trump for a bout of diplomacy that collapsed in 2019.

Despite biting sanctions, North Korea has doubled down on its military modernisation drive, and talks have stalled since.

According to footage from his speech on the state media, Kim Jong Un said last week that he would take measures to develop the nuclear force of our state at the fastest possible speed.

The nuclear forces, a symbol of our national strength and the core of our military power, should be strengthened in terms of quality and scale. Negotiations aimed at convincing Kim to give up his nuclear weapons programmes haven't worked.

Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, told AFP that there is a good chance that they have fired a missile that can be equipped with a nuclear warhead.

Kim said he could use his nuclear force to counter hostile forces at a meeting with top military brass last week.

The latest weapons test came days before South Korea's incoming President Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed a tougher stance on the North, takes office next week.

It could be a warning to. Yoon, said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Yoon has hinted that he is only willing to talk about peace if North Korea confirms that it is willing to denuclearize, something Pyongyang will never accept, Hong Min said.

He said that it could signal Pyongyang's position that it has no choice but to further enhance its arsenal if Seoul and Washington decided to deploy strategic military assets to the South.

President Joe Biden is due to visit South Korea in May.