North Korea fires ballistic missile off its east coast

North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Friday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as rival South Korea was wrapping up nearly two weeks of major military exercises aimed at deterring the North.
It would be the latest in a record year of missile launches for nuclear-armed North Korea, which has test fired everything from short range missiles to its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), among others.
No other details, including the projectile's flight range, were immediately available.
The launch comes four days after North and South Korea exchanged warning shots off the west coast amid heightened tension between them.
South Korean troops were scheduled on Friday to finish the 12-day Hoguk 22 field exercises, which have included some drills with U.S. troops. Major drills by South Korean and U.S. aircraft are due to begin on Monday.
North Korea has said that recent missile launches were in protest against the joint exercises, which it says are provocative and a rehearsal for an invasion.
South Korea and the United States say the exercises are defensive and needed to counter the North's threats.
The United States and its allies believe North Korea could be about to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has said the North has completed all necessary technical preparations for an underground detonation at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, which has been officially shuttered since 2018.
North Korea conducted six nuclear tests at the site from 2006 to 2017.
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday said a seventh North Korea nuclear test would be further "confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead in a way that is incredibly concerning."
South Korea has warned that a resumption of nuclear testing by North Korea would have to be met with an "unparalleled" response from the allies, but neither it nor the United States has given details.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.
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