According to the Japanese and South Korean governments, North Korea launched what seems to be an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, marking Pyongyang’s first long-range launch since 2017.
The North Korean missile traveled for more than 70 minutes before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 170 kilometers west of Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
According to Japanese officials, the missile reached a height of 6,000 kilometers and had a range of 1,100 kilometers. The weapon looks to be a new sort of ICBM.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in “strongly criticized” the launch during an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, claiming it violated North Korea’s self-imposed ban on long-range launches.
North Korea has threatened that it is planning to launch a military spy satellite on several occasions. According to US sources, such a launch would effectively be a long-range missile test, and it may involve a big new ICBM capable of carrying several warheads, according to experts.
Since 2016, North Korea has not launched a satellite. Its most recent ICBM test took place in 2017, at a time when tensions between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump were at an all-time high.
In 2018, during meetings with Trump and his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in, Kim announced a self-imposed halt on ICBM and nuclear tests. That moratorium appears to have expired.
This year, North Korea has launched 12 missile tests, at least two of which it claims were in preparation for the satellite launch.
The North is going through a wish list of strategic weapons that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un outlined last year.
It’s unclear if North Korea’s most recent launch included a satellite. The test has elicited no response from North Korea. It normally does not report its missile actions in official media until the next morning. (VOA News)