North Korea launches possible ballistic missile, Japanese and South Korean officials say

North Korea on Friday fired at least one possible ballistic missile in its third weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea and Japan said, in an apparent reprisal for fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration for its continuing test launches.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the weapon was fired toward the east but did not immediately say where it landed or provided other details.

Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry also said they detected the North Korean launch and said it was possibly a ballistic missile.

The Japanese coast guard issued a safety advisory, saying an object had possibly landed already. It urged vessels between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, as well as the East China Sea and the North Pacific, to “pay attention to further information and to keep clear when recognizing falling object.”

The Biden administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five North Koreans over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the North’s missile programs in its response to the North’s missile test this week. It also said it would seek new U.N. sanctions.

The announcement by the Treasury Department came just hours after North Korea said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday that he claimed would greatly increase the country’s nuclear “war deterrent.”

Tuesday’s test was North Korea’s second demonstration of its purported hypersonic missile in a week. The country in recent months has been ramping up tests of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles designed to overwhelm missile defense systems in the region, as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a freeze in diplomacy with the United States.

In a statement carried by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesperson defended the North’s launches of purported hypersonic missiles as a righteous exercise of self-defense.

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