North Korea launches missile toward the sea hours after U.S. flies bomber during drills with South Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, hours after the U.S. flew at least one long-range bomber to the Korean Peninsula in a show of force against the North.

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

Earlier Wednesday, the United States flew a B-1B bomber to the Korean Peninsula as part of field exercises with South Korea. The field training has been held on the sidelines of an ongoing annual U.S.-South Korean computer-simulated command post exercise called “Ulchi Freedom Shield.”

North Korea views U.S.-South Korean military drills as an invasion rehearsal.

Earlier this week, North Korea’s state media said leader Kim Jong Un called for the military to be constantly ready for combat to thwart plans by its rivals to invade.

Kim said in a speech marking the country’s Navy Day on Monday that the waters off the Korean Peninsula have been made unstable “with the danger of a nuclear war” because of U.S.-led hostilities, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has carried out more than 100 weapons tests, many of them involving nuclear-capable missiles designed to strike the U.S., South Korea and Japan. Many experts say North Korea ultimately wants to use its increased military capabilities to wrest greater concessions from the U.S.

North Korea’s testing spree has caused the U.S. and South Korea to expand their drills, resume trilateral training involving Japan, and enhance “regular visibility” of U.S. strategic assets at the Korean Peninsula. In July, the United States deployed a nuclear-armed submarine to South Korea for the first time in four decades.

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