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North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile from a submarine, South says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives a speech Oct. 10 in Pyongyang. (AFP/Getty Images)

TOKYO — North Korea appeared to have fired a short-range ballistic missile from a submarine on Tuesday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, the latest development in Pyongyang's barrage of weapons tests in recent weeks.

The launch came as envoys from the United States, South Korea and Japan gathered Tuesday in Seoul to discuss how to jump-start dialogue with Pyongyang after nuclear talks collapsed in 2019. Officials in Japan also confirmed the ballistic missile test, which occurred while the country’s new prime minister was campaigning ahead of the Oct. 31 general election.

North Korea launched the projectile from its east coast, near the port city of Sinpo, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Pyongyang has been developing its ability to launch ballistic missiles from underwater and has tested the technology a handful of times in recent years to varying degrees of success. Further details of the test were not immediately available.

Dueling ballistic missile tests on Korean Peninsula signal rising tensions

The weapons test would likely violate United Nations Security Council resolutions, although it is unclear if there will be any retribution. In September, South Korea launched an underwater ballistic missile from a submarine and successfully hit a designated target.

South Korean National Security Council officials expressed “deep regret” over North Korea’s actions, saying the launch came as South Korea was conducting “active discussions” with various countries about negotiations with the North.

The U.S. military was aware of the launch, and officials determined it did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory or allies.

“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from any further destabilizing acts,” the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in statement, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said North Korea’s recent launches “underscore the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy.”

“Our offer remains to meet anywhere, any time without preconditions,” she said. “We’re also closely consulting with allies in this.”

Earlier Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that two ballistic missiles were detected and that it was “deeply regrettable that North Korea has successively launched missiles since last month.” Kishida, who was campaigning in northern Japan, canceled his appearances and announced he would return to Tokyo to handle the country’s response.

Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki said in a news briefing that Japanese officials believe North Korea launched two ballistic missiles about a minute apart. Japanese officials were assessing the details.

‘Two pedals’: North Korea sends conflicting messages with missile tests and hints of outreach

Tuesday’s development marked the fifth weapons test since September by North Korea, which has been building up its capabilities. North Korea has said its actions are for “self-defense” as the South develops its own capabilities and holds military exercises with U.S. forces.

North Korea has also signaled it is willing to engage with Seoul, but talks with the United States have halted since the 2019 negotiations with the Trump administration fell apart.

The Biden administration has said it is willing to resume discussions with North Korean officials without preconditions but has not signaled an intention to offer the sanctions relief sought by Pyongyang.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a briefing last week that the United States has made “specific proposals” to engage North Korea and is awaiting a response.

Mariana Alfaro in Washington contributed to this report.

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