North Korea test fired a submarine-based ballistic missile from its east coast on Wednesday, said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
North Korea’s launch took place in the waters, off Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, in the early morning.
The US Pacific Command tracked the missile over and into the Sea of Japan, approximately 300 miles off the coast of North Korea.
This comes amid the annual joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea, which kicked off on Monday.
The annual drill includes 25,000 US troops, the bulk of which are already stationed in Korea, according to a statement by US Forces Korea.
Compared to previous tests, Wednesday’s missile is seen as “an improvement,” according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The United States and South Korea are closely analyzing the details.
North Korea’s latest military move has drawn condemnation from the South Koreans.
This as a “serious challenge against the security of the Korean peninsula” and believed to be “part of North Korea’s armed protest to escalate military tension in the Korean peninsula using annual US-South Korea joint drill as an excuse,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a press statement.
A senior US State Department official told CNN the US is trying to determine whether the launch was successful.
The missile is presumed to be a KN-11, said Navy Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for .S Pacific Command.
Threat of more missiles
North Korea has made threats of nuclear retaliation if the two-week drills “show the slightest sign of aggression,” a spokesman for North Korea’s military was quoted as saying by the country’s state media.
In response to the joint drills, North Korea on Tuesday sent a letter to the UN Security Council, complaining that the “US-led large-scale joint military exercise in collusion with the south Korean forces despite repeated warnings of the DPRK is a grave military provocation aimed to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK and a challenge to regional peace and stability in every way.”
Under Security Council resolutions, aimed partially at curbing North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, the communist country is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile launches.
A South Korean defense official earlier this month said North Korea has launched more than 30 test missiles since Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader took power in 2011.
Though North Korea has aimed to improve its nuclear and missile capabilities, it has yet to pair the two successfully.
Earlier this month, North Korea fired two intermediate range ballistic missiles, including one into the Sea of Japan.
The US Strategic Command said one of the missiles exploded after launch. The other flew about 621 miles (1,000 kilometers) over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.