A photo from the North Korean government purports to show an intercontinental ballistic missile launched March 16, f2023, from  the Sunan international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea.

A photo from the North Korean government purports to show an intercontinental ballistic missile launched March 16, f2023, from the Sunan international airport in Pyongyang, North Korea. (KCNA)

SUWON, South Korea — North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile off its eastern coast at 8:34 a.m. Monday, hours after it fired a short-range missile the previous night, according to the South Korean military.

The long-range ballistic missile was launched at a lofted angle from the Pyongyang area toward the East Sea, or Sea of Japan, the Ministry of National Defense said in a text message to news reporters. It said the missile traveled over 620 miles.

South Korea’s military can “overwhelmingly respond to any provocation” and “keep a close eye on North Korea’s various activities,” the ministry said in its message.

Monday’s launch followed about 10 hours after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile from the same area toward the East Sea at 10:38 p.m. Sunday. That missile flew 354 miles before splashing down.

The missile launch Sunday was “immediately captured, tracked and monitored” by South Korea, which shared the information with the U.S. and Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement the same day.

The Joint Chiefs said the launch was “a clear provocation” that violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. North Korea has been banned by the Security Council from all ballistic missile activity since 2006.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in a statement said Sunday’s short-range missile “does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies.”

The Monday launch marks the 24th ballistic missile fired by North Korea in 17 separate days of testing so far this year.

An unidentified North Korean Defense Ministry spokesman on Sunday described the United States and South Korea as “hostile forces” that have destabilized the Korean Peninsula with their joint military drills, according to a statement in the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Washington and Seoul “have aggravated the situation in the Korean Peninsula with their reckless military provocations” and “are going to finish the end of the year with a preview of a nuclear war,” the statement said.

The launches also follow the arrival Sunday of a U.S. submarine arrived in South Korea. The USS Missouri docked in Busan, becoming the third American submarine to visit the Korean Peninsula this year, according to a news release from the South Korean navy on Sunday.

The Missouri is a Virginia-class fast-attack sub whose mission includes anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, special operations and strike warfare, according to the Navy.

The USS Kentucky, an Ohio-class ballistic missile sub capable of launching nuclear weapons, arrived in Busan in July; the USS Santa Fe, a Los Angeles-class attack sub, docked four months later.

President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed to regularly deploy strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula and to “engage in deeper, cooperative decision-making on nuclear deterrence” during a state visit at the White House in April, according to a joint statement at the time.

The U.S.-South Korea Nuclear Consultative Group, a collection of senior-level officials who jointly plan for Seoul’s defense, convened their second meeting Friday in Washington, D.C.

The two sides acknowledged that their nuclear deterrent capabilities had deepened since their first meeting in July, according to a White House statement Friday.

“The United States reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to provide extended deterrence to [South Korea], backed by the full range of U.S. capabilities including nuclear,” the statement said. “Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies is unacceptable and will result in the end of the Kim regime …”

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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