Suspected ballistic missile fired on North Korean coasttext_fields
What appears to be a ballistic missile has been fired from the east coast of North Korea at approximately 8 AM local time, which was directed out to sea, South Korean military officials in the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The move came just hours before South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a rail line he hopes will eventually connect the divided Korean peninsula.
President Moon called the railway a "stepping stone" for peace between the two nations which have still officially not ended their conflict and are technically in an armistice. Kim Jong-Un, leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea had promised in his New Year's address to boost the nation's military capability in the ongoing silent tussle with the USA and it's southern neighbour.
"We should not give up the hope for dialogue in order to fundamentally overcome this situation," President Moon was quoted as saying during his address at the ceremony in Goseong via Reuters. "If both Koreas work together and build trust, peace would be achieved one day."
Reconnecting the two Koreas by rail was a central issue in meetings between Kim and Moon in 2018, but those efforts went nowhere as talks aimed at convincing North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons in exchange for easing international sanctions faltered in 2019.
South Korean military chiefs have raised the alarm over the symbolism of launching the purported missile when peace-related discussions were ongoing. Japanese military, which had been observing the launch which took place from the Jagang Province on the northern border with China, said the missile had flown an estimated 500km.
Ballistic missiles and the development of similar weapons have been banned by the UN in sanctions imposed on North Korea. However the country has continued to launch them in spite of international criticism, most notably test-launching a hypersonic missile from the same Jagang province last year.