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NKorea test-fires second suspected missile in a week

North Korea appears to have test-fired a ballistic missile for the second time in less than a week, drawing condemnation from neighbouring South Korea and Japan.

The latest missile test comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed to boost his country’s military.

The launch, which occurred earlier on Tuesday, also comes exactly 10 years since Mr Kim, the third generation of his family to rule the communist state, took power after his father’s sudden death from a heart attack.

He has said his country will not resume denuclearisation talks until the US drops “hostile policies”, such as sanctions.

In its response, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement the suspected ballistic missile launch was detected around 7:27am on Tuesday, local time, from an inland area of North Korea toward the ocean off its east coast.

The JCS said it was cooperating with its US allies and closely monitoring the situation.

In the capital, Seoul, the National Security Council (NSC) later held an emergency meeting, expressing “strong regret” that the missile test came at a time when regional stability was extremely important.

“Members of the NSC urged North Korea to swiftly respond to the international community’s expectations for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, and agree to resume dialogue and cooperation,” Seoul’s presidential Blue House said.

In japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida noted the United Nations had just finished holding discussions on how to respond to last week’s launch by Pyongyang of what it had described as a “hypersonic missile”.

Analysts say the latest missile launch, which has come only six days after the previous one, underscored Mr Kim’s New Year’s vow to strengthen his country’s armed forces at a time when talks with Seoul and the US have stalled.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested dozens of missiles since the reclusive leader’s ascension to power 10 years ago.

Editing by Tony Okerafor