North Korea fired a ballistic missile early Wednesday, South Korean military officials said, the first such launch in two months and just a week after the US slapped fresh sanctions on the hermit state and declared it a state sponsor of terrorism.
The North has stoked international alarm over its banned nuclear missile programme but before Wednesday had not staged a missile test since September 15, raising hopes that ramped-up sanctions were having an impact.
The missile flew east from South Pyongan Province, the military Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
The US Pentagon said it had detected a “probable missile launch” from North Korea.
South Korea’s military staged a “precision strike” missile exercise in response, Yonhap news agency said, also quoting the JCS.
Seoul’s unification minister had on Tuesday said signs of unusual activity had been detected in North Korea, hinting at a possible missile test.
The US last week unveiled new sanctions targeting North Korean shipping, raising pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its atomic weapons programme.
Pyongyang condemned the move as a “serious provocation” and warned that sanctions would never succeed.
In September the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and staged an intermediate-range missile launch over Japan.