(SEOUL) North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday, according to the Yonhap news agency, the latest launch as Seoul and Washington conduct their largest joint military drills in five years.
“North Korea is firing a ballistic missile towards the East Sea,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as quoted by Yonhap, in reference to the Korean name for the Sea of Japan.
Seoul has been conducting military maneuvers with Washington since Monday, unprecedented in five years, supposed to strengthen the cooperation of the two allies in the face of the nuclear threat embodied by the North. Called “Freedom Shield”, they are to last ten days.
These drills infuriate Pyongyang, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory and regularly promises a “crushing” response.
The launch comes after Pyongyang fired its most powerful missile, the Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), on Thursday ahead of a visit to Japan by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol.
The two neighbors have resumed language at the highest level and decided to present a united front against the aggressiveness of North Korea.
It was the second ICBM test carried out by Pyongyang this year.
North Korean state media then called it a response to “frantic” military exercises by South Korea and the United States.
Last year, North Korea declared its status as a nuclear power “irreversible”, with its leader Kim Jong-un calling for an “exponential” increase in its military arsenal, including tactical nuclear weapons.