Seoul, South Korea
North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, the Kim Jong Un regime’s second missile test in two days, in actions condemned as unacceptable by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
The ICBM was launched at around 10:15 a.m. local time from the Sunan area of the North Korean capital Pyongyang and flew about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) to the east, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said of South Korea (JCS).
Kishida said it likely fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of the Japanese island of Oshima Oshima, according to the Japan Coast Guard. It didn’t fly over Japan.
“North Korea continues to carry out provocative actions with a frequency never seen before,” Kishida told reporters on Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
“I want to reiterate that we cannot accept these actions,” he said.
The Japanese government will continue to collect and analyze information and provide prompt updates to the public, 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, which said details were being analyzed by intelligence authorities in South Korea and the US.
Friday’s missile was about 100 kilometers in altitude and distance from Pyongyang’s March 24 missile test, which recorded the highest altitude and longest duration of any North Korean missile ever tested, according to a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report at the time. The missile reached an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and flew a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), KCNA reported.
Calling the launch a “major provocation and a serious act of intimidation”, the JCS warned the North of violating the UN Security Council resolution and urged it to stop immediately.
Misawa Air Base issued a shelter-in-place alert after the missile was launched, according to US Air Force Col. Greg Hignite, director of public affairs for US Forces Japan. It has now been lifted and the US military is still analyzing the flight path, he said.
US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the missile launch and his national security team “will continue to consult closely with allies and partners,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said Friday in a statement
“The door has not been closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement,” Watson said. “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”
Friday’s launch comes a day after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula and issued a stern warning to the United States of “stronger military counteraction” to its ties closer defense with South Korea. and Japan
It’s the second suspected ICBM test launch this month — a missile launched earlier on Nov. 3 appeared to have failed, a South Korean government source told CNN at the time.
The aggressive acceleration of weapons tests and rhetoric has raised alarm in the region, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said North Korea “is trying to disrupt international cooperation against it by raising military tensions and suggesting that it has the ability to hold North Americans at risk of nuclear attack”.
North Korea has conducted missile tests on 34 days this year, sometimes firing multiple missiles in a single day, according to a CNN count. The count includes both cruise and ballistic missiles, with the latter making up the majority of North Korea’s tests this year.
There are substantial differences between these two types of missiles.
A ballistic missile is launched by a rocket and travels outside the Earth’s atmosphere, gliding through space before it re-enters the atmosphere and descends, propelled only by gravity to its target.
A cruise missile is powered by a jet engine, remains within the Earth’s atmosphere during its flight, and is maneuverable with control surfaces similar to those of an airplane.
Ankit Panda, a senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that while he would not see Friday’s alleged ICBM launch “as a message, per se,” it can be seen as part of the North Korean “process”. of developing the capabilities that Kim has identified as essential to the modernization of his nuclear forces.”
US and international observers have been warning for months that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the nuclear test site. This test would be the hermit nation’s first in five years.
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, which Kim Jong Un has promised to do this year.
The recent short-range tests “are exercises for front-line artillery units practicing pre-emptive nuclear strikes,” Lewis said.
He dismissed any political or negotiating message from the evidence.
“I wouldn’t think of these tests as a primary signal. North Korea is not interested in talking right now,” Lewis said.