North Korea fires short-range missile toward Yellow Sea -S.Korea military

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By Josh Smith and Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea on Thursday fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Yellow Sea, South Korea's military said.

The launch follows a statement on Tuesday by Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, that any move to shoot down one of North Korea's test missiles would be considered a declaration of war.

The missile was fired at about 6:20 p.m. (0920 GMT) from around the North Korean city of Nampo, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The Yellow Sea is located between China and the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean military is analysing the possibilities, including that North Korea may have launched several short-range ballistic missiles simultaneously from the same area, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a later statement.

On Tuesday, North Korea blamed a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea for growing tensions, state media KCNA said.

The United States and South Korea will conduct large-scale military exercises known as the "Freedom Shield" drills starting next week.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the latest launch posed no threat to the United States or its allies but said Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs have a destabilizing effect on the region.

"Since September 2022, North Korea has timed its missile launches and military demonstrations to counter U.S.–South Korea exercises probably to attempt to coerce the United States and South Korea to change their behaviour," U.S. intelligence agencies said in a threat assessment report on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Josh Smith and Joyce Lee in Seoul, Doina Chiacu in Washington; editing by Jason Neely and Bernadette Baum)