North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, shortly after a US aircraft carrier arrived in the region for maneuvers, the South Korean military said.
“North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, without providing further details.
The launch comes amid reports that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine.
The Japanese coast guard also confirmed the possible missile launch, citing information from Tokyo’s defense ministry, and asked ships in the area to remain vigilant.
“Ships, please be attentive to new information and if you see foreign objects, please do not approach them and inform the coast guard,” the agency said.
Japanese public television said the object appeared to have fallen outside of Japan’s economic exclusion zone.
On Friday, the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and ships from its strike group docked in the southern port of Busan as part of an effort by Seoul to step up military cooperation with Washington.
The USS Reagan will conduct joint exercises this month off South Korea’s east coast.
The United States and South Korea are historical allies and have carried out numerous joint military exercises, which they define as defensive, but Pyongyang considers them rehearsals for an invasion.
Authorities in Washington and Seoul have warned for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
In May, the North fired a short-range ballistic missile from Sinpo, North Korea’s largest naval shipyard.
The isolated regime has carried out six nuclear tests since 2006. The last and most powerful was in 2017, which according to Pyongyang was a hydrogen bomb with an estimated power of 250 kilotons.