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IANS

North Korea fired a ballistic missile toward the East Sea on Saturday in the latest flare-up of tensions just four days ahead of the presidential election in South Korea, the military in Seoul said.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launch from around the Sunan area in Pyongyang at 8.48 a.m. and that the missile flew around 270 km at a top altitude of 560 km, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The latest launch, the North's ninth show of force this year, came less than a week after it claimed to have conducted a "reconnaissance satellite" development test that the South called a ballistic missile launch.

"The North's recent series of ballistic missile launches are a significant threat to not only the international community but also peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," the JCS said in a press statement.

"We strongly urge the North to immediately stop them."

The North appears to have launched the missile at a steep angle from a Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) from the Sunan airfield, a JCS official said.

Saturday's missile appears to be similar to the one fired also at a steep angle at the Sunan airfield on February 27, the official said.

If launched at a standard angle, the missile would have travelled between 1,000 km and 1,200 km -- a flight distance for a medium-range ballistic missile, according to analysts.

South Korea's presidential National Security Council condemned the North's missile launch, calling for it to halt acts that raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The US Indo-Pacific Command also denounced the launch and urged the North to refrain from "further destabilizing acts".

The North's "satellite" development test on February 27 marked the resumption of its rocket launches following a hiatus that it apparently imposed during the Beijing Winter Olympics apparently in respect for China, its ally and key economic patron.

Since the start of this year, the North has launched a barrage of missiles, including an intermediate-range ballistic missile, using various platforms, such as a road-mobile launcher and a railway-borne one.
 

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