23 October 2018
A file photo shows North Korea’s Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile during a test earlier this year. Credit: KCNA/Reuters
A file photo shows North Korea’s Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile during a test earlier this year. Credit: KCNA/Reuters

North Korea fires ICBM into Japanese waters

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into waters off Japan early Wednesday, in what is said to be its longest-range test yet of the weapon.

According to the US Defense Department, its initial assessment was that the missile was launched from Sain Ni in North Korea and traveled about 1,000 kilometers before splashing down in the Sea of Japan, Reuters reports.

The missile did not pose a threat to the United States, its territories or allies, the Pentagon said.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the ICBM went “higher frankly than any previous shot they’ve taken”.

The Japanese government estimated that the missile flew for about 50 minutes and landed in the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

In a previous test on Aug. 29, a North Korean missile was airborne for 14 minutes over Japan.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile reached an estimated altitude of 4,000 kilometers and broke up before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

He said it was determined to be ICBM class given its lofted trajectory.

Pyongyang’s latest missile test came a week after US President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of countries that Washington says support terrorism.

The designation allows the US to impose more sanctions.

North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under its leader, Kim Jong-un, in defiance of UN sanctions. Trump has vowed not to let North Korea develop nuclear missiles that can hit the mainland United States.

Of the latest test missile, Trump told reporters at the White House: “It is a situation that we will handle.”

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by phone and agreed to boost deterrence capability against North Korea, Yasutoshi Nishimura, deputy chief cabinet secretary, told reporters in Tokyo.

Washington has said repeatedly that all options, including military ones, are on the table in dealing with North Korea, but that it prefers a peaceful solution by Pyongyang agreeing to give up its weapons programs.

“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss North Korea’s latest missile launch. 

The Hwasong-14 is a two-stage ICBM North Korea tested twice in July. South Korean and US officials and defense experts have said the missile may have a range of about 10,000 km and could possibly strike many parts of the US, but not the East Coast.

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