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North Korea flies warplanes and tests another ballistic missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a meeting of the politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, January 19, 2022 in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) January 20, 2022.

KCNA | via Reuters

WASHINGTON — South Korea’s military said it detected a North Korean short-range ballistic missile launch, the latest in a series of tests by the nuclear-armed country that have raised tensions with its neighbors in Asia and in the U.S.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also said North Korean warplanes flew near their shared border, prompting Seoul to scramble F-35 fighter jets. The 10 aircraft from the North flew as close as 7 miles from the inter-Korean border, according to South Korea’s military.

It marks the second time in the past week that North Korea flew military aircraft near the border. Last Thursday, Pyongyang flew 12 fighter jets and bombers close to the border.

The Pentagon said it was aware of the latest North Korean ballistic missile launch and that it would continue monitoring the situation.

“We have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” the U.S. Indopacific Command, the combatant command that oversees the region, said in a statement.

“The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad,” the command added.

The State Department condemned the latest ballistic missile launch and cited that any tests conducted by North Korea are in violation of multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

“We continue to seek serious and sustained dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but the DPRK refuses to engage,” a State Department spokesman said in a statement.

Thursday’s test comes less than one day after North Korea said it test-fired a long-range cruise missile. Pyongyang also carried out missile launches on Oct. 3 and Oct. 5.

The Oct. 3 test, the first in five years to fly over Japan, was answered with a volley of U.S. and South Korean missiles. The Pentagon said that the four missiles were launched into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.

Read more: North Korea fires a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korea says

Under Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state has provoked the ire of world leaders by conducting its most powerful nuclear test, launching its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatening to send missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Since 2011, Kim has launched more than 100 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.

So far this year, North Korea has fired more than 35 ballistic missile tests.

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