North Korea has fired an ICBM ahead of a visit by the South Korean president to Japan

This photo shows a missile launch by a unit of the Korean People’s Army responsible for operational missions on the Western Front on March 15, 2023, at an undisclosed location in North Korea. — AFP

SEOUL: North korea South Korea’s president on Thursday fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, hours before he flew to Tokyo for a summit to discuss ways to confront the nuclear-armed North.

conducted by North Korea launch several rockets this week as part of ongoing collaboration South Korea-U.S Pyongyang denounces the military exercises as hostile acts.

The missile, which was launched from Pyongyang at 7:10 a.m. (2210 GMT Wednesday), flew about 1,000 kilometers on a high trajectory, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the ICBM-type projectile flew at a height of 6,000 kilometers for about 70 minutes.

It may have landed about 200km west of Oshima-Oshima island in northern Japan’s Hokkaido, outside Japan’s exclusive economic zones, the ministry said.

Japanese Chief Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has not confirmed any reports of missile damage, Japan said in a statement through the North Korean embassy in Beijing.

“North Korea’s missile launch is a barbaric act that further provokes the entire international community,” Matsuno said. “Today, at the Japan-South Korea summit, we confirm close cooperation with South Korea and the United States for the complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

South Korea called a meeting of the National Security Council and “strongly condemned” the missile launch as an act of grave provocation that threatens international peace.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has ordered his country’s military to hold exercises with the United States as planned, saying his office will pay for North Korea’s “reckless provocations.”

South Korean and American forces began Monday an 11-day joint exercise called Freedom Shield 23 on a scale not seen since 2017 to counter growing threats from the North.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after the launch that regional peace and stability was the most important issue, and White House National Security Council spokesman Adrienne Watson said the United States “strongly condemns” North Korea’s latest launch for needlessly raising tensions in the region.

US Indo-Pacific Command has assessed that the missile poses no immediate threat to US personnel or territory or its allies.


Thursday’s launch came as Yun traveled to Japan for the first such summit in more than a decade with Kishida, part of an effort to overcome historical, political and economic disputes to improve cooperation to counter North Korea and other challenges.

As part of the effort, the two US allies agreed to share real-time monitoring of North Korean missile launches and pledged to further deepen military cooperation.

“Today’s missile launch is a clear protest not only against the South Korea-US drills, but also against South Korea’s and Japan’s desire to increase military cooperation,” said Jeong Song Chan, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute.

“However, such protests will prompt the Yun government to further strengthen trilateral cooperation with Japan and the United States and have a boomerang effect,” he added.

It was not immediately clear what type of ICBM was launched on Thursday, but a South Korean military official said it was unlikely to be the Hwasong-17, a liquid-fueled missile previously tested by North Korea. a new solid propellant ICBM.

The Hwasong-17 is the North’s largest missile and is the world’s largest mobile, liquid-fueled ICBM capable of delivering a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States.

Some experts speculate that it may carry multiple warheads and decoys to better penetrate the missile defense system.

North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are banned by UN Security Council resolutions, but Pyongyang says the weapons development is necessary to counter the “hostile policy” of Washington and its allies.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA “Provocations by the US and South Korea have reached a red line,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said Sunday, chairing a ruling party meeting to discuss and decide on “important practical” measures to prevent war.

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