North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast, in its first such launch since October.

The missile landed in water between the Korean peninsula and Japan,
bringing condemnation from Seoul and Tokyo.

The latest launch – the first since a New Year speech in which Leader
Kim Jong-un set out policy priorities for 2022 – was first reported by the
Japanese coast guard early on Wednesday, before being confirmed by
defence authorities in Seoul.

The UN prohibits North Korea from ballistic and nuclear weapons tests.
But Kim Jong-un has vowed to bolster the North’s defences. It tested a
variety of missiles last year amid stalled talks with the South and US.

In 2017, North Korea tested the Hwasong-15, a missile that peaked at an
estimated altitude of 4,500km, putting US military bases on the Pacific
island of Guam well within striking distance.

The launch comes days after Kim said that Pyongyang would continue
to strengthen its defence capabilities due to an increasingly unstable
military environment on the Korean peninsula – a stance Panda warned
could see 2022 littered with similar North Korean missiles.

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