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North Korea apparently tested a missile on Friday, which would make it the third test in two weeks, just hours after criticizing a U.S. push for new sanctions over the previous launches as a “provocation” and warning of a strong reaction.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea launched an unidentified projectile, without elaborating.

Japan’s coast guard said the North fired what could be a ballistic missile.

The launch would be the third since New Year’s day, an unusually high pace of missile tests. The previous two were of “hypersonic missiles,” North Korean state media reported, capable of high speeds and manoeuvring after launch.

North Korea defended its missile tests as its legitimate right to self-defence and said the United States was intentionally escalating the situation by imposing new sanctions, state media reported earlier on Friday, citing the foreign ministry.

North Korea’s recent development of a “new-type weapon” was just part of its efforts to modernize its national defence capability, and did not target any specific country or harm the security of neighbouring countries, the foreign ministry said in a statement on the KCNA state news agency.

The statement warned of an unspecified “stronger and certain reaction” if the United States adopts a confrontational stance.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday imposed its first sanctions over North Korea’s weapons programs following a series of North Korean missile launches.

It also called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against several North Korean individuals and entities accused of violating security council resolutions that ban North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States had made clear it had no hostile intent toward North Korea and was willing to engage in talks without preconditions, but that the tests were “profoundly destabilizing.”

The North Korean foreign ministry said that while Washington may talk of diplomacy and dialogue, its actions show “it is still engrossed in its policy for isolating and stifling” North Korea.

“The U.S. is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK’s just activity to the UN Security Council,” the statement said.

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