North Korea launches purported ‘space vehicle,’ South Korea says

North Korea launched a purported “space launch vehicle” Wednesday, South Korea’s military said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry also said “a possible ballistic missile” was launched from North Korea, which has been isolated from the rest of the world by sanctions.

Japan’s coast guard said Wednesday local time that the possible ballistic missile appears to have fallen, citing information from the Defense Ministry, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK reported.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff office said the military detected “one round of what North Korea claimed as its space launch vehicle” fired southwards at 6:29 a.m. Wednesday (5:29 p.m. Tuesday ET).

The joint chiefs of staff office later said that “what North Korea claims as the space launch vehicle has landed at about 200 kilometers into the sea,” and it said that there had been “an abnormal flight.”

TVs show a news flash about North Korea’s possible ballistic missile launch in Tokyo early Wednesday local time.Kyodo News via AP

North Korea said Tuesday local time that it planned to launch what it said was a military spy satellite, which would be its first. A report about it from North Korea state media KCNA cited “the dangerous military acts of the U.S. and its vassal forces.”

North Korea is prohibited by United Nations sanctions from long-range and ballistic missile tests.

The country has repeatedly launched such missiles anyway, including in April when it said it tested a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. The country has also conducted six nuclear tests.

North Korea and South Korea remain technically at a state of conflict, after the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

South Korea issued a text alert Wednesday morning telling residents in the Seoul area to prepare to evacuate, but the country’s Interior Ministry later said that was an error.

South Korea’s National Security Council convened Wednesday in response to the launch, the presidential office said.

The U.S. National Security Council condemned the launch.

“This claimed space launch involved technologies that are directly related to the DPRK intercontinental ballistic missile program,” using an acronym for North Korea’s full name.

The U.S. called it the launch “a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions” that raises tensions and risks in the region.

The South Korean Joint Chief of Staff said it was in the process of recovering what could be wreckage of the vehicle.

The Associated Press contributed.

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