North Korea fires ballistic missile towards east, says Seoul
- The launch was the latest in a string of sanctions-busting North Korean weapons tests so far this year, and came after US and South Korean officials warned Pyongyang was preparing to resume nuclear testing.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, just a week after leader Kim Jong Un vowed to boost Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal at the "fastest possible speed".
The launch was the latest in a string of sanctions-busting North Korean weapons tests so far this year, and came after US and South Korean officials warned Pyongyang was preparing to resume nuclear testing.
"One ballistic missile fired by North Korea today at 1203 (0303 GMT) from around Sunan towards the East Sea (Sea of Japan) was detected," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
"Currently, our military is maintaining readiness posture by tracking and monitoring related movements in preparation for additional launches."
Japan's Coast Guard also said that North Korea had launched "potentially a ballistic missile".
The nuclear-armed state staged a dramatic return to long-range launches in March, test-firing at full range its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile -- which may be able to reach the continental United States.
Such tests had been paused while Kim met then-US President Donald Trump for a bout of diplomacy that collapsed in 2019.
Talks have stalled since, and despite biting sanctions, North Korea has doubled down on its military modernisation drive.
Kim Jong Un said at a military parade last week that he would take measures to develop "the nuclear forces of our state at the fastest possible speed", according to footage of his speech broadcast on state media.
"The nuclear forces, the symbol of our national strength and the core of our military power, should be strengthened in terms of both quality and scale."
Repeated negotiations aimed at convincing Kim to give up his nuclear weapons programmes have come to nothing.
"There is a good chance that they test-fired a missile that can be equipped with a nuclear warhead," Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, told AFP.
Kim also warned that he could "pre-emptively" use his nuclear force to counter hostile forces at a meeting with top military brass last week.
The latest weapons test came just days before South Korea's incoming president Yoon Suk-yeol, who has vowed a tougher stance on the North, takes office next week.
"It could be a warning message to... Yoon," said Hong Min of the Korea Institute for National Unification.
Yoon has hinted he is only willing to talk about peace if North Korea confirms it is willing to denuclearise -- something Pyongyang will never accept, Hong Min said.
"It could also signal Pyongyang's stance that it has no choice but to further enhance its arsenal if Seoul and Washington decided to deploy strategic military assets to the South," he added.
US President Joe Biden is due to visit South Korea in May.
Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday filed for bankruptcy in the United States, warning a walkout by 1,000 pilots a day earlier had put the future of the carrier at risk. The Stockholm-based SAS airline group said it had “voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S., a legal process for financial restructuring conducted under U.S. federal court supervision.” Filing for Chapter 11 in New York puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances.
UK cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday resigned from their positions saying that have they lost confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other. Javid also posted the same on Twitter. Johnson has been hit by allegations he failed to come clean about a lawmaker who was appointed to a senior position despite claims of sexual misconduct.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart this week in Indonesia at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 bloc of the world's leading industrialised nations, the State Department said Tuesday.
The city of Xian in northwest China's Shaanxi province will be locked down from Wednesday, following a community outbreak of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5, the first cases of the Covid subvariant in China, becoming the latest challenge to the country's zero-Covid policy. While in-house dining has been suspended, take-aways will be allowed, authorities said. “Special places such as prisons, welfare homes, and old-age institutions will be closed for management,” a state media report said.
The Dutch parliament approved legislation to establish work-from-home as a legal right, making the Netherlands one of the first countries to grant remote working flexibility by law. The legislation was approved by the lower house of the bicameral parliament of the Netherlands on Tuesday. It still needs a nod from the Dutch senate before its final adoption.