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N Korea launches missile into sea amid US-S Korea drills

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a suspected missile toward the sea on Sunday, its neighbors said, as the North ramps up testing activities in response to U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal.

Japan’s Defense Ministry and coast guard said what appeared to be a North Korean missile was fired Sunday morning. They gave no further details.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited the South’s military as saying that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters.

Calls to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff were not immediately answered on Sunday.

The launch, if confirmed, would be the North’s third round of weapons tests since the U.S. and South Korean militaries began their joint military drills last week.

The North views the drills as a practice to launch an invasion, though the United States and South Korea have steadfastly said their training is defensive in nature. The latest U.S.-South Korean drills, which include computer simulations and field exercises, are to continue until Thursday.

The North Korean weapons recently tested include its longest-range Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile designed to strike the U.S. mainland. The North’s state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying the ICBM launch was meant to “strike fear into the enemies.”


This version corrects that the launch, if confirmed, would be the third round of weapons tests since the U.S.-S Korea joint drills started last week (not fourth).