SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s military said it detected that North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward waters off its western coast on Thursday.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapon was fired at around 6:20 p.m. from an area around the western coastal city of Nampo. It did not immediately release an assessment of how far the missile flew.
The launch came after the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned Tuesday that her country is ready to take “quick, overwhelming action” against the United States and South Korea as the allies expand their military training to cope with a growing North Korean nuclear threat.
Coming off a record year in missile testing, North Korea has conducted more weapons demonstrations to 2023 including test launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile, short-range missiles and a purported long-range cruise missile system in recent weeks.
Experts say North Korea's weapons push is aimed at forcing the United States into accepting it as a nuclear power and at negotiating badly needed economic concessions from a position of strength.
Last week, the South Korean and U.S. militaries announced they will conduct computer-simulated command post training on March 13-23 and will resume their largest springtime field exercises, which were last held in 2018. The United States has also recently sent advanced warplanes, including the B-1B and B-52 long-range bombers, to train with South Korean aircraft in a show of strength, triggering protests from North Korea, which describes the allies’ joint drills as invasion rehearsals.
The allies had canceled or scaled back some of their regular drills since 2018 to support now-dormant diplomacy with North Korea and guard against the COVID-19 pandemic. But they have been restoring their exercises after North Korea test-fired dozens of missiles last year and threatened to use its nuclear weapons in potential conflicts with its rivals.