North Korea may have fired a ballistic missile on Thursday, NHK reported citing the Japanese government. Similar reports have also come in from the US, with articles quoting senior US officials to confirm the same. Two launches of missiles were conducted from North Korea's territory last week.
The Japanese Defense Ministry sources said that at 07:06 am (local time) Thursday a missile, which was probably ballistic, was fired from the territory of North Korea. The missile fell outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. On Wednesday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had confirmed that North Korea fired two cruise missiles off the West Coast on March 21, marking Pyongyang's first missile test in about a year seen as testing US President Joe Biden's administration.
"South Korean and SS intelligence authorities are analysing the projectiles in detail, weighing the possibility that they could be short-range ballistic missiles," a JCS officer was quoted as saying in the statement.
US Indo-Pacific Command spokesperson Capt. Mike Kafka said the US military was aware and monitoring the situation. "This activity highlights the threat that North Korea''s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community," he was quoted as said.
"We detected two projectiles presumed to be cruise missiles fired from the North's western port county of Onchon early Sunday," a JCS officer told reporters on Wednesday, reported Yonhap news agency. He further informed that South Korean and US authorities have been analysing details and closely monitoring moves by North Korea.
In other related news, North Korea has condemned the European Union (EU) for including it in the targets of "human rights sanctions" under the pretext of "countering global human rights violations". A report by the Korean Central News Agency released on Tuesday night quoted a foreign ministry spokesperson as saying that the EU performed "a farce of announcing the targets of sanctions" by pointing its finger at what it calls "human rights violations" in several countries, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
A top EU body had on Monday slapped sanctions on North Korea for allegedly torturing and killing people. The move marks the first time the EU has explicitly named North Korean officials for human rights-related crimes.
(With inputs from agencies)