North Korea launches a solid fueled Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile in April 2023 in this image from the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea launches a solid fueled Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile in April 2023 in this image from the state-run Korean Central News Agency. (KCNA)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile into waters east of the Korean Peninsula early Tuesday, according to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The missile was fired from the Pyongyang area at approximately 6:53 a.m. and flew roughly 370 miles before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, the Joint Chiefs said in a text message to reporters.

South Korea “strongly condemns” the launch, considered a “clear provocation” that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula, the message said.

The missile was tracked immediately after its launch and its trajectory and other information was shared with the United States and Japan for analysis, according to the Joint Chiefs. To better track North Korea’s launches, the three countries brought a real-time, data-sharing system online in December.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense detected the missile at approximately 6:52 a.m. and said it may have flown about 400 miles at a maximum altitude of 62 miles.

At 7:04 a.m., Japan’s coast guard advised commercial vessels to avoid the area outside the country’s exclusive economic zone where the missile dropped and to report any debris, according to the service’s Maritime Information and Communication System.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered government ministries to gather information for a fast analysis to provide “accurate information to the Japanese citizens, to thoroughly secure the safety of aircraft and ships, and to be fully prepared for any unexpected situation,” according to his office’s website.

Kishida told reporters there were no damage reports, according to video footage of his comments posted on the Nippon TV website.

“This is absolutely unacceptable, as it concerns not only the security of our country but also the security of the region and the international community,” he said. “It also violates related Security Council resolutions.”

North Korea has fired several ballistic missiles this year, including a solid-fueled intermediate-range missile from its eastern coast on Jan. 14.

The regime last fired several short-range ballistic missiles in succession on March 18. South Korea’s military said it was unable to determine the exact number of missiles launched that day. The Japanese Defense Ministry said it counted at least three missiles.

Tuesday’s launch comes eight days before South Korea’s parliamentary general election on April 10.

Members of the conservative People Power Party have campaigned on a hardline stance against North Korean provocations and hold about 34% of the National Assembly’s 300 seats. The opposing Democratic Party holds nearly 48%.

Four days prior to South Korea’s presidential election on March 9, 2022, the North fired a ballistic missile off its eastern coast.

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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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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