North Korea fired an unidentified projectile toward the Sea of Japan late Friday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Republic of Korea has announced. It is suspected to have been a ballistic missile.
Additional details from the Japanese Defense Ministry revealed that the launch took place at 23:58 GMT on Friday. It was further noted that the projectile fell outside the Japanese exclusive economic zone and did not cause any damages to Japanese infrastructure.
The ministry is conducting an ongoing investigation into the launch.
Citing the South Korean military, Yonhap reported that the launch comes four days before South Korea holds its presidential election, and less than a week after North Korea conducted a prior test.
Yonhap reported the Saturday launch as the ninth missile test conducted by Pyongyang this year.
In early 2022, North Korea had confirmed that it had successfully tested a medium-range ballistic missile that managed to travel roughly 800 kilometers, and was reportedly 16 times faster that the speed of sound. Subsequent tests included short-range ballistic missiles and tactical-guided projectiles.
A more recent launch conducted in late February was later determined to have been part of a larger project to develop a “reconnaissance satellite.”
At the time, the Korean Central News Agency detailed that the launch effectively helped scientists “confirm the characteristics and working accuracy of [a] high definition photographing system, data transmission system and attitude control devices by conducting vertical and oblique photographing of a specific area on Earth with cameras to be loaded on the reconnaissance satellite.”
North Korea last deployed a satellite with success in 2016.
As has been the case following reports of North Korea’s test launches, the US and its allies have repeatedly blasted such events and underscored the importance of Pyongyang’s refraining from “further destabilizing acts.”