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North Korea launches so-called ‘space vehicle’, South Korea says

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

Japan’s Defense Ministry also said a “possible ballistic missile” had been launched from North Korea, which has been isolated from the rest of the world by sanctions.

The Japanese Coast Guard said on Wednesday local time that the possible ballistic missile appeared to have fallen, citing information from the Defense Ministry, Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff office said the military detected “a shell from what North Korea claimed was its space launcher” fired south at 6:29 a.m. Wednesday (5:29 p.m. Tuesday ET ).

The joint chiefs of staff office later said “what North Korea claims to be the space launcher landed about 200 kilometers into the sea”, and it said there had been “a abnormal flight”.

Televisions broadcast a news flash about the possible launch of a ballistic missile by North Korea in Tokyo early Wednesday local time.Kyodo News via AP

North Korea said 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 “the dangerous military acts of the United States and its vassal forces”.

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

The country has launched such missiles several times anyway, including in April when it said it tested a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile 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 on Wednesday morning asking residents in the Seoul area to prepare to evacuate, but the country’s Interior Ministry later said that was a mistake.

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

The United States National Security Council condemned the launch.

“This alleged space launch involved technologies directly related to the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile program,” using an acronym for North Korea’s full name.

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

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said he was in the process of recovering what may be the wreckage of the vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed.


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