Japan says North Korea may have fired ballistic missile

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TOKYO (NewsNation Now) — North Korea may have fired a ballistic missile, Japan’s defense ministry said on Thursday, adding the projectile had not fallen within Japanese territory.

North Korea’s ballistic missiles are banned under United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and if the launch is confirmed, it would represent the first ballistic-missile test launch under President Joe Biden.

“It may have been a ballistic missile. It has not fallen within Japanese territory and is not believed to have come down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone,” a defense ministry spokesman said.

Earlier the Japanese coast guard warned ships against coming close to any fallen objects and instead asking them to provide related information to the coast guard.

U.S. officials confirmed a launch to Reuters, without offering details on the number or kind of projectile detected.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also reported North Korea fired an unidentified projectile off the east coast into the sea.

This comes after North Korea fired short-range cruise missiles this past weekend. U.N. Security Council resolutions ban North Korea from engaging in any ballistic activities, but not cruise missile tests. Cruise missiles fly at a lower altitude and slower speed than ballistic missiles, making them easier to intercept, but they are still considered more accurate.

After the weekend test, President Biden told reporters the missile tests were not a provocation. “There’s no new wrinkle in what they did,” he said.

Relations between the U.S. and North Korea, once hailed as potentially promising after President Donald Trump’s three meetings with Kim, have been tense with no substantive contact for more than a year.

The last face-to-face talks between senior officials from the two countries were held in Sweden in October 2019 and efforts by the Biden administration to resume a dialogue have been rebuffed since February.

Since Trump’s first meeting with Kim in Singapore in 2018, the North has not conducted nuclear or long-range missile tests, although analysts believe they have pressed ahead with their programs on both. And, the North has not given up short- and medium range missile testing.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski/Reuters, Aamer Madhani and Matthew Lee/AP