North Korea fires ICBM into sea off Japan in ‘blatant violation’ of UN resolution

Seoul, Korea

North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, the Kim regime’s second missile test in two days. Japan said it was possible it could reach the continental United States.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the intercontinental ballistic missile was launched at around 10:15 a.m. local time from the Sunan district of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, flying about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) east. The US called it a “blatant” violation of UN resolutions.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said it likely fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Japan’s Oshima Island, according to the Japan Coast Guard. It did not fly over Japan.

“North Korea continues to carry out provocative actions with an unprecedented frequency,” Kishida told reporters at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday. “I want to reiterate that we cannot accept such behavior.”

The Japanese government will continue to collect and analyze information and provide the public with the latest information in a timely manner, he said. So far, there have been no reports of damage to ships at sea, Kishida added.

The ICBM reached an altitude of about 6,100 kilometers (3,790 miles) at Mach 22, or 22 times the speed of sound, according to the JCS, and intelligence services in South Korea and the United States are analyzing the details.

Japanese Defense Minister Koichi Hamada said it was possible it could reach the continental United States. “If calculated based on the flight distance of such an ICBM, the range of the ICBM-class ballistic missile launched this time may exceed 15,000 kilometers,” Hamada said in a statement. “It depends on the weight of the warhead, but in that case, the U.S. mainland will be included in the range.”

This is not the first time North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that experts and officials assess could theoretically reach the United States.

Friday’s missile was about 100 kilometers shorter in height and distance than Pyongyang’s March 24 missile test, the highest ever in North Korea’s history, North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 10, 2018 Altitude and longest duration missiles. time. The missile flew at an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), according to KCNA.

In 2017, then-US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said North Korea’s missile launches that year demonstrated the ability to hit “everything in the world”.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris joined the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada on the sidelines of the APEC summit on Friday morning to condemn the launch in a previously unscheduled media briefing.

“I have asked this group of allies and partners to come together and join us in condemning North Korea’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile,” she said. “I also ask them to join so that we as allies and partners can consult on our next steps. This recent behavior by North Korea is in flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. It undermines security and stability in the region and unnecessarily exacerbates tense situation.”

South Korean President Yoon Hee-yeol on Friday also ordered the “active implementation” of measures to strengthen extended deterrence against North Korea.

The president said Seoul would strengthen its alliance with Washington and strengthen its defense posture and security cooperation with the United States and Japan.

“The government will not tolerate North Korean provocations,” his office said in a statement. “The government has an overwhelming ability and willingness to respond immediately to any North Korean provocation, so North Korea should not misjudge this.”

It added that North Korea had nothing to gain through its constant provocations, while warning that sanctions against North Korea would only intensify, leading to further isolation of Pyongyang internationally.

Calling the launch a “major provocative and serious threatening act,” the JCS warned North Korea of ​​violating U.N. Security Council resolutions and urged it to stop immediately.

A shelter-in-place alert was issued for Misawa Air Force Base following the missile launch, according to the U.S. Air Force colonel. Greg Hignite, director of public affairs for U.S. forces in Japan. Now that it has been canceled, the U.S. military is still analyzing the flight path, he said.

National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement Friday that U.S. President Joe Biden had been briefed on the missile launch and that his national security team would “continue to consult closely with allies and partners. “.

“The door to diplomacy is not closed, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and choose diplomatic engagement instead,” Watson said. “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the U.S. homeland and our allies in South Korea and Japan.”

Friday’s launch came a day after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula and issued a stern warning to the United States that it would retaliate “harder militaryly” against its strengthening defense ties with South Korea. and Japan.

A South Korean government source told CNN at the time that it was the second suspected ICBM test this month — an earlier launch on Nov. 3 appeared to have failed.

The aggressive acceleration of weapons tests and rhetoric has sparked panic in the region, with the United States, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.

North Korea “is trying to undermine international cooperation by escalating military tensions and suggesting it has the capability to put American cities at risk of nuclear attack,” said Rafe Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

North Korea has conducted missile tests for 34 days this year, sometimes launching multiple missiles in a single day, according to a CNN tally. The tally includes cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, the latter accounting for the bulk of North Korea’s tests this year.

There is a big difference between the two missiles.

Ballistic missiles are launched by rockets and fly outside the Earth’s atmosphere, gliding through space before re-entering the atmosphere and descending, driven only by gravity to reach their targets.

Cruise missiles are powered by jet engines, stay inside the Earth’s atmosphere during flight, and can maneuver through control surfaces similar to those of an airplane.

Ankit Panda, a senior fellow with the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that while he believed Friday’s putative ICBM launch was “not a message per se,” it could be seen as part of a “process” in North Korea’s development of what Kim Jong-un believes is critical. critical to the modernization of its nuclear forces. ”

For months, U.S. and international observers have warned that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the test site. Such a test would be the first in five years for the hermit nation.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the ICBM test was designed to validate parts of North Korea’s missile program, something Kim Jong Un has vowed to do this year.

The recent short-range test “was an exercise for front-line artillery units to practice pre-emptive nuclear strikes,” Lewis said.

He dismissed any political or negotiating message from the test.

“I don’t think these tests are primarily a signal. North Korea is not interested in talking right now,” Lewis said.

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