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North Korea fires suspected missile into sea off east coast

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SEOUL, South Korea >> North Korea on Sunday launched a suspected ballistic missile into the sea, South Korean and Japanese officials said, in the North’s apparent eighth round of weapons tests so far this year.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch had happened without providing further details. Japan’s Defense Ministry also said North Korea launched a possible ballistic missile.

A maritime safety warning from Japan’s Coast Guard said “an object possibly ballistic missile” was launched from North Korea and that it probably landed in the sea. Vessels in the area were warned to stay away from objects that may have fallen from the air and to report them to authorities.

North Korea last month conducted seven rounds of missile tests in what some experts called an attempt to perfect its weapons technology and pressure the Biden administration to make concessions such as relief from economic sanctions.

North Korea later halted testing activity after the start of the Winter Olympics in China, which is its last major ally and economic pipeline. Some experts had predicted North Korea would resume tests and possibly launch bigger weapons after the Olympics.

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