North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Saturday in a “surprise” exercise to test the weapon’s reliability, according to official media.
It soared approximately 900 kilometers (560 miles) in 67 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan. Pyongyang claimed the test demonstrated its ability to resist hostile forces such as the United States and South Korea.
It comes ahead of next month’s joint drills between Washington and Seoul, which are intended to help deter North Korea’s growing nuclear threats.
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Pyongyang has promised “unprecedently strong” reaction for any such drills, which it claims are being conducted in preparation for an invasion of North Korea.
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, stated early on Sunday that any hostile acts will be greeted with a “strong and overwhelming” response. She also urged the US to put a halt to what she called “threats” to the regime. She did, however, clarify that North Korean missiles would not strike the South Korean capital, Seoul.
North Korea paraded more than a dozen intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on Friday.
The missile, the first launched since New Year’s Day, landed west of Hokkaido in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) at 18:27 (09:27 GMT), according to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. An EEZ is a portion of the sea over which a country has control. Japan’s is a 200-nautical-mile zone off the country’s coast.
It reached a height of 5,700 kilometers, according to government spokeswoman Hirokazu Matsuno in Tokyo. While that is extremely high (the edge of space is around 100 kilometers), it is not the highest altitude attained by a North Korean missile.
An ICBM reached a height of 6,100 kilometres in November. Previously, in January 2022, North Korea revealed stunning photographs of Earth that it said were taken during a 2,000km missile launch.
Because of their enormous range, including the continental United States, ICBMs are particularly concerning.
Japan’s Defense Minister, Hamada Yasukazu, said Saturday’s missile, with a possible range of 14,000 kilometers, would have been capable of doing so. “North Korea’s sequence of activities endangers Japan’s and the international community’s peace and stability, and are completely inexcusable,” Mr Matsuno added.
North Korea’s “reckless behavior” has been criticized by the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Germany. In a statement, they stated that it “threatens regional and international peace and security,” and that the UN Security Council should adopt stronger steps against Pyongyang.
The missile was launched from the Sunan district, north of Pyongyang, where the international airport is located, according to South Korea’s military. It is also the location of the majority of North Korea’s recent ICBM testing.
The UN Security Council has prohibited North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. Yet, Pyongyang has continued to develop its weaponry and perform lavish military parades to demonstrate them.
Pyongyang displayed its largest exhibition of intercontinental ballistic missiles ever in a midnight military parade attended by leader Kim Jong-un just over a week ago.
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