North Korea fires suspected missile into sea

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TOPSHOT – North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting with US President Donald Trump on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired a suspected missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, the South Korean and Japanese militaries said, the first such launch in about two months amid long-dormant international diplomacy on the North’s nuclear program.

The latest launch came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to further boost his military capability at a ruling party conference last week.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired the projectile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday morning. It gave no further details.

The Japanese Defense Ministry said Wednesday that North Korea fired what was likely a missile. The ministry did not disclose other details.

Wednesday’s launch is the first such firing since North Korea tested a series of newly developed weapons between September and November including nuclear-capable missiles that place South Korea and Japan, both key U.S. allies in the region, within striking distance. Some experts said North Korea was applying more pressure on its rivals to accept it as a nuclear power state and to ease international sanctions on the country.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions. The North has so far rebuffed such overtures, saying U.S. hostility remains unchanged.

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