North Korea nuclear program
North Korea nuclear program iStock

South Korea’s military said on Sunday that North Korea has fired at least one unidentified ballistic missile toward its eastern sea, The Associated Press reported.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not immediately say what type of missile it was or how far it flew.

Japan's Defense Minister, Yasukazu Hamada, said Japan estimated the missile reached maximum altitude at 50 km and may have flown on an irregular trajectory.

Hamada said it fell outside Japan's exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of problems with shipping or air traffic, reported Reuters.

North Korea has tested more than 30 ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a prolonged stalemate in nuclear diplomacy.

In May, it fired a volley of missiles, including possibly its largest intercontinental ballistic missile.

In July, Pyongyang fired what appeared to be multiple rocket launchers.

The United States and South Korea have warned of a “swift response” if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, but have also offered talks as a way out.

Earlier this month, North Korea passed a law officially enshrining its nuclear weapons policies. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the new legislation makes the country’s nuclear status "irreversible" and bars any negotiation on denuclearization.

The latest launch comes after the arrival of the nuclear-powered American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in South Korea to participate in joint drills with South Korean forces, and ahead of a planned visit to Seoul this week by US Vice President Kamala Harris.

North Korea has ramped up its missile tests ever since talks with Washington on denuclearization failed.

Former US President Donald Trump tried to reach an agreement with North Korea while in office. Kim and Trump met in Hanoi in 2019 for a summit that left nuclear talks at a standstill.

The Biden administration reached out to North Korea shortly after taking office, but the country did not respond to those overtures.