North Korea fires ballistic missile off East Coast in first launch of the year days after Kim Jong-un’s chilling warning

North Korea fires ballistic missile off East Coast in first launch of the year days after Kim Jong-un’s chilling warning

NORTH Korea has fired a ballistic missile of its east coast only days after Kim Jung-un threatened to start a “war” with its neighbour.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch took place today – but gave no further details like how far the deadly weapon flew.

ReutersIt was the pariah state’s first missile test of the year[/caption]

AFPPeople watch a television screen showing file footage of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul[/caption]

It was the North’s first missile launch in 2024.

A projectile believed to be the missile has fallen, according to the Japanese coast guard, outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, public broadcaster NHK said.

Tensions on the peninsular are running high after Pyongyang’s recent launches of an intercontinental ballistic missile and its first military spy satellite.

In recent days, North Korea has been stepping up pressure on Seoul declaring it the “principal enemy”.

Leader Kim Jong-un called threatened to “annihilate” it if provoked and vowed to enhance his country’s ability to deliver a nuclear strike on the US and America’s allies in the Pacific.

Sunday’s launch came days after North Korea fired a barrage of artillery shells near the tense sea border with South Korea, prompting South Korea to conduct similar firing exercises in the same area.

The site is where the navies of the two Korea’s have fought three bloody sea battles since 1999 and attacks blamed on North Korea killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.

Experts say Kim will likely further raise animosities by conducting more missile tests and possibly launching limited physical attacks on South Korea to try to raise the stakes in the standoff with his rivals and influence the results of South Korea’s parliamentary elections in April.

Pyongyang’s isolated government is forging closer ties with Moscow.

North Korea’s foreign minister will visit China this week as Washington has lead a chorus of condemnation over Kim’s transfers of weapons for Moscow to use against Ukraine.

On December 29 and January 2, Russia used North Korean missiles to blitz Ukraine for the first time, leaving at least 50 people dead.

In response, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The world turned its back on Russia, forcing Putin into the humiliation of going to North Korea to keep his illegal invasion going.”

Moscow and Pyongyang have denied conducting any arms deals but vowed last year to deepen military relations.

On Thursday, the US imposed sanctions targeting Russian entities aiding the transfer of North Korean ballistic missiles to be potentially used against Ukraine.

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