North Korea has launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters, Japanese and South Korean officials say.
The country’s 14th round of weapons firing this year comes amid speculation it is preparing for a nuclear test.
Days earlier, Kim Jong Un declared he would bolster his nuclear arsenal ‘at the fastest possible pace’.
It also took place less than a week before a new conservative South Korean president takes office.
Japan’s Coast Guard urged traveling vessels to be on guard for any possible fragments from what they called a possible ballistic missile.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the launch was made off the North’s eastern coast but gave no further details.
They added that their military is monitoring possible weapons launches.
It comes weeks after Mr Jong Un was pictured beaming as he observed a test-fire of a new type of tactical guided weapon ‘designed to boost the country’s nuclear fighting capability’.
The supreme leader warned he would use nuclear weapons ‘preemptively’ if his country’s national interests were threatened during a huge military parade in Pyongyang last week.
They are fundamentally a deterrence tool against war but could be used for other means, he said.
The pace of weapons testing in North Korea has quickened this year – a move seemingly intended to pile pressure on the US to relax extensive international sanctions and accept the nation as a nuclear state.
Six nuclear weapons tests have taken place since 2006, but the first one in five years is potentially being preparing at the country’s remote north-eastern testing facility, experts say.
Satellite images appear to show the construction of buildings, movement of lumber and an increase in equipment outside a new entrance, the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington reports.
South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk Yeol will be inaugurated for a single five-year term on May 10.
He has promised to boost Seoul’s missile capability and solidify its military alliance with Washington to better cope with increasing North Korean nuclear threats.