North Korea launches test missile ahead of Kamala Harris visit to Seoul
The nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan is docked in Busan, South Korea
The missile reached its max altitude of 50 kilometres
China and Russia have criticized the drills being conducted by South Korea and the United States
North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast, raising tensions as South Korean and US forces planned military drills ahead of US Vice President Kamala Harris', according to a Reuters report.
The missile fell into the sea outside Japan's exclusive economic zone and did not disrupt shipping lanes or air traffic, the country's Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada told Reuters. The ballistic missile was short-range and was fired near the Taechon area of North Korea, according to South Korea's military.
Missile's launched by North Korea in the past few years have been short-range and designed to circumvent missile defenses through 'depressed' trajectories and by being maneuverable in flight, experts have said.
Hamade called North Korea's launch a "threat to peace and security of our country, the region and the international community" saying that such actions at a time when the "Ukraine invasion unfolds is unforgivable." He added that the country had registered a protest with the North Korean embassy in Beijing, China.
The move comes shortly before Vice President Harris visits Seoul later this week. South Korean armed forces and US aircraft carrier, the USS Ronald Regan have been practicing drills together. This is the first visit by an American aircraft carrier in the past four years.
Russia and China have criticised the ongoing drills, calling for a halt to steps that raise tensions in the region and have said that the sanctions on North Korea should be reduced.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions saying that it infringes on its right to defend its sovereignty and has criticized combined drills by South Korea and the US as proof of their hostility.
This is the first launch conducted by North Korea since it launched eight short-range ballistic missiles in one day in June this year. The move led to the US calling for more sanctions on the dictatorship for violating UN Security Council resolutions.