North Korea fires possible ballistic missile: Japanese Defence Ministry

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Tokyo: A day after it unveiled its plan for satellite launch, North Korea fired a “possible ballistic missile” on Wednesday, reported Kyodo News quoting the Japanese Defence Ministry.

According to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korean leader Kim Jong Un directed his country’s space agency to finalise preparations for the launch of Pyongyang’s first military reconnaissance satellite.

Pyongyang has alerted the Japan Coast Guard of three maritime hazard zones where objects may fall beginning Wednesday, two to the west of the Korean Peninsula and one to the east of the Philippines. All of these areas are not within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to Kyodo News.

Kyodo News is a Japan-based news agency with an emphasis on Japanese and Asian viewpoints.

Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Ri Pyong Chol, on Monday, said, “The North’s military reconnaissance satellite is indispensable to tracking, monitoring, discriminating, controlling and coping with in advance in real time the dangerous military acts of the US and its vassal forces.”

Ri noted “the reckless military acts” by the US and South Korea, telling KCNA, “We steadily feel the need to expand reconnaissance and information means and improve various defensive and offensive weapons”, according to Kyodo News.

Japanese PM Fumio Kishida, while emphasising that Japan considers the launching of a rocket carrying a satellite equivalent to a ballistic missile test on the basis of historical precedent, warned that following through on the plan would be in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

Sanctions have been imposed on North Korea for its weapons-related actions in accordance with United Nations resolutions.

Pyongyang, which launched missiles a record 37 times last year, has continued to launch ballistic missiles this year, raising suspicions that North Korea is planning its eighth nuclear test in the near future, Kyodo News reported.

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