North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Reuters

North Korea on Friday morning (local time) fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast Friday, just days after its leader Kim Jong-Un ordered further nuclear warhead and missile tests, AFP reports.

The report was based on South Korea's defense ministry, whose spokesman said the missile was launched from Sukchon in the country's southwest and flew 800 kilometers (500 miles) into the East Sea, also called the Sea of Japan.

The spokesman did not confirm the type of missile, but South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited military sources as saying it was a Rodong missile, a scaled up Scud variant with a maximum range of around 1,300 kilometers.

Kim has upped his rhetoric in recent days, saying last week his country now possesses nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.

The previous week, Kim ordered his country to be prepared to use nuclear weapons “at any time”.

In fact, military tensions have been soaring on the divided Korean peninsula since the North carried out its fourth nuclear test on January 6, followed a month later by a long-range rocket launch that was widely seen as a disguised ballistic missile test.

The UN Security Council responded earlier this month by imposing its toughest sanctions on North Korea to date.

And, on Wednesday, the Obama administration for the first time imposed sanctions on broad sectors of the North Korean economy, prohibiting U.S. businesses from conducting any trade with North Korean entities engaged in finance, transportation, mining and energy.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, has maintained a daily barrage of nuclear strike threats against both Seoul and Washington, ostensibly over ongoing, large-scale South Korea-U.S. military drills that the North sees as provocative rehearsals for invasion.

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