North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of US Vice Prez Kamala Harris visit

North Korea today fired a ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast of the Korean peninsula.

It came after a US aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea to participate in joint drills, and ahead of a planned visit by the US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Officials in both South Korea and Japan confirmed the launch of the missile. Seoul has described the launch as an “act of grave provocation”.

United States’ nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan docked in the southern port city of Busan on Friday, to take part in joint drills off South Korea’s east coast.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to beef up joint military exercises with the United States, after years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor.

Washington is Seoul’s key security ally and stationed about 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect it from the North.
The two countries have long carried out joint exercises, which they insist are purely defensive but North Korea sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

Earlier this month, North Korea passed a law declaring itself to be a nuclear weapons state, with leader Kim Jong-un ruling out the possibility of talks on denuclearisation.

Despite widespread sanctions, Pyongyang conducted six nuclear tests between 2006 and 2017.

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