North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea, on Aug. 27, 2023. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. Photo by Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP.
By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press
SEOUL, South Korea —North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, hours after the U.S. flew at least one long-range bomber to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against the North.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also announced that North Korea fired a suspected ballistic missile.
Earlier Wednesday, the United States flew a B-1B bomber to the Korean Peninsula as part of field exercises with South Korea. The field training is being held on the sidelines of an ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean computer-simulated command post exercise called “Ulchi Freedom Shield" that began Aug. 21.
Members of U.S. Special Operations Command Korea and South Korea's Army Special Warfare Command take part in a joint maritime infiltration training as part of the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise at a shore in Yangyang, northern South Korea, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. Photo by Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP.
North Korea views U.S.-South Korean military drills as an invasion rehearsal.
North Korea is sensitive to the deployment of U.S. B-1B bombers, which are capable of carrying a large payload of conventional weapons.
Wednesday's B-1B deployment is the 10th flyover of U.S. bombers on the Korean Peninsula this year.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the bomber took part in aerial drills with other U.S. and South Korean warplanes in waters off the Korean Peninsula’s west coast. A ministry statement said the drills demonstrated the countries' combined defense posture and the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea.
North Korea’s state media said Tuesday that leader Kim Jong Un called for the military to be constantly ready for combat to thwart plans by its rivals to invade. Also Tuesday, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan mobilized naval destroyers for a trilateral missile defense exercise in the waters off South Korea's southern Jeju island.
Members of U.S. Special Operations Command Korea and South Korea's Army Special Warfare Command take part in a joint maritime infiltration training as part of the Ulchi Freedom Shield (UFS) exercise, at a shore in Yangyang, northern South Korea, Monday, Aug. 28, 2023. Photo by Kim Hong-ji/Pool Photo via AP.
Kim said in a speech marking the country’s Navy Day on Monday that the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been made unstable “with the danger of a nuclear war” because of U.S.-led hostilities, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has carried out more than 100 weapons tests, many of them involving nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Many experts say North Korea ultimately wants to use its increased military capabilities to wrest greater concessions from the U.S.
North Korea’s testing spree has caused the U.S. and South Korea to expand their drills, resume trilateral training involving Japan, and enhance “regular visibility” of U.S. strategic assets at the Korean Peninsula. In July, the United States deployed a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades.
Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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