SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s military says it detected North Korea firing at least one ballistic missile toward the sea off its eastern coast, adding to a recent flurry in weapons tests as the United States steps up its military exercises with the South to counter the North’s growing threat.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff on Monday didn’t immediately say how far the missile flew or where it landed. Japan’s coast guard said in a statement that the missile is believed to have already landed.
The launch was the North’s seventh missile event this month as it steps up its military demonstrations in a tit-for-tat response to U.S.-South Korea military exercises.
The allies last week completed an 11-day exercise that included their biggest field training in years, but North Korea is expected to further step up its testing activity as the United States reportedly plans to send an aircraft carrier in coming days for another round of joint drills with the South.
North Korea has fired more than 20 ballistic and cruise missiles across 11 launch events this year as it tries to force the United States to accept its nuclear status and negotiate a removal of sanctions from a position of strength.
North Korea’s launches this month included a flight-test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a series of short-range weapons intended to overwhelm South Korean missile defenses as it tries to demonstrate an ability to conduct nuclear strikes on both South Korea and the U.S. mainland.
The North last week conducted what it described as a three-day exercise that simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean targets, which included cruise missile launches and a demonstration of a purported nuclear-capable underwater drone that the North claimed is capable of destroying naval vessels and ports.
Analysts were skeptical about the North Korean claims about the drone or whether the device presents a major new threat, but the tests underlined the North’s commitment to expand its nuclear threats.