North Korea launches alleged ‘space vehicle’, South Korea says


North Korea launched a so-called “space launch vehicle” on Wednesday, the South Korean military said.

Japan’s defense ministry also said a “possible ballistic missile” was launched from North Korea, which has been cut off from the rest of the world by sanctions.

Japan’s coast guard said Wednesday local time that the suspected ballistic missile appears to have fallen, citing information from the Defense Ministry, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported.

South Korea’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military detected “a round from what North Korea claimed was its space launch vehicle” fired toward the south at 6:29 a.m. Wednesday (5:29 p.m. on Tuesday, Eastern time).

The office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff later said that “what North Korea claims the space launch vehicle landed about 200 kilometers into the sea”, saying there had been “an abnormal flight”.

TVs show a news preview about a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch in Tokyo early Wednesday local time.Kyodo News via AP

North Korea said on Tuesday local time that it planned to launch what it said was a military spy satellite, which would be its first. A report on the matter by North Korean state media KCNA cited “dangerous military acts by the United States and its vassal forces.”

North Korea is barred by United Nations sanctions from testing long-range and ballistic missiles.

The country has repeatedly launched such missiles anyway, including in April when it said it tested a solid-fueled ICBM for the first time. The country has also carried out six nuclear tests.

North Korea and South Korea technically remain in a state of conflict, after the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

South Korea issued a text alert Wednesday morning telling residents in the Seoul area to prepare to evacuate, but the country’s interior ministry later said it was in error.

South Korea’s National Security Council met on Wednesday in response to the launch, the presidential office said.

The US National Security Council condemned the launch.

“This alleged space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK’s ICBM program,” using an acronym of North Korea’s full name.

The United States called the launch “a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions” that escalates tensions and risks in the region.

The South Korean Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he was in the process of recovering what could be the remains of the vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed.

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