North Korea has reportedly fired a projectile eastward, according to a South Korean military alert. The launch took place on Sunday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
In its own assessment, Japan’s Coast Guard noted that the projectile might be a ballistic missile. The projectile fell into the sea outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the Japanese military said.
If confirmed, the launch would become North Korea’s eights missile test since the beginning of the year. Pyongyang refrained from missile activity during the recent Beijing Winter Olympics that wrapped up last week in what some experts believe was a nod to Beijing.
The Sunday’s launch also comes shortly after Chinese President XI Jinping vowed to step up “friendship and cooperation” with North Korea in a “new situation.” It’s unclear if the Chinese leader was specifically referring to the ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
China is North Korea’s biggest trade partner, and it is estimated that Beijing is responsible for about 90% of the reclusive nation’s trade. The cross-border trade between China and North Korea, which is under heavy international sanctions for its missile and nuclear testing activity, resumed last month after Pyongyang lifted some of its strict coronavirus restrictions.