North Korea fires ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

FILE - This file image made from video of an undated still image broadcast in a news bulletin on Monday, May 15, 2017, by North Korea’s KRT shows leader Kim Jong Un at what was said to be a missile test site at an undisclosed location in North Korea.(KRT via AP Video, File)

(CNN) — North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile from an area near Pukchang, according to the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The missile flew east about 500 km (over 300 miles), South Korean officials said.

“Our military is closely monitoring North Korea and is maintaining readiness posture,” the statement said.

The missile was launched Sunday at about 4:59 a.m. Seoul time from a site in the vicinity of Puckchang county, which is home to North Korea’s largest power plant.

It seems to have fallen into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, but not within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press briefing.

Authorities have not received any reports of damage on ships or planes, Suga said.

A White House official said the projectile was a medium-range ballistic missile, a system that North Korea tested in February.

“U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 09:59 p.m. Hawaii time May 20. The launch of a medium range ballistic missile occurred near Pukchang.

The missile was tracked until it landed in the Sea of Japan.

We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely.

U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.”

– CDR Dave Benham, USN, APR+M, Director of Current/Media Operations U.S. Pacific Command Public Affairs Communication & Outreach

The missile tested in February was a Pukguksong-2, a medium long-range ballistic missile, officials said. It was the first test by Pyongyang since President Donald Trump was inaugurated.

At the time, the missile was described as a “Korean style new type strategic weapon system” by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, KCNA.

Sunday’s launch comes days after the US sent a second aircraft carrier –the USS Ronald Reagan– to the region. The carrier is conducting a variety of training exercises along the USS Carl Vinson, which has been at the Korean Peninsula since late April.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch and said it was “obviously” violating the UN resolution and the “repeated provocative acts by North Korea are totally unacceptable.”

It’s the second from North Korea since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office last week. Moon has advocated dialogue with North Korea to denuclearize.

Last week North Korea launched what analysts called the country’s most successful ballistic missile test yet.

That missile — a Hwasong-12 was launched May 14 — flew for about 30 minutes and landed in water 60 miles south of Russia’s Vladivostok region, the home of the Russian Pacific Fleet.

North Korea has attempted at least 11 missile launches on eight occasions since Trump took office in January.

CNN’s Yoko Wakatsuki, Antoine Sanfuentes, Will Ripley, Brad Lendon, Zachary Cohen and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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