KOREA: North Korea fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, Tokyo and Seoul said as they voiced outrage at Pyongyang’s most powerful launch since 2017.
South Korea’s military said it had fired missiles from ground, sea and air in response.
Pyongyang has launched nearly a dozen weapon tests this year in an unprecedented spree in defiance of UN sanctions.
But long-range and nuclear tests such as the one conducted on Thursday have been paused since leader Kim Jong Un met then-US president Donald Trump for a bout of doomed diplomacy, which collapsed in 2019.
Thursday’s launch was a “breach of the suspension of intercontinental ballistic missile launches promised by Chairman Kim Jong Un to the international community,” South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said in a statement.
“It poses a serious threat to the Korean peninsula, the region and the international community,” Moon said, adding that it was a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions.
The missile was fired on Thursday afternoon from Sunan — likely the same site as a failed test last week — and had a range of 6,200 kilometers (3,850 miles), Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The missile flew for 71 minutes and landed in Japan’s territorial waters, according to the Japanese Government. Despite biting international sanctions over its weapons programs, Pyongyang has doubled-down on Kim’s drive to modernise the military, and last week test-fired what analysts said was likely the Hwasong-17.
North Korea will mark the 110th anniversary of the birth of founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, and analysts predict Pyongyang will conduct an ICBM or satellite launch as part of the celebrations.
“Kim Jong Un feels it’s very important to prove his leadership’s competency before the 110th birthday anniversary of Kim Il Sung, especially to his own people in North Korea,” said Cheong Seong-chang of the Center for North Korea Studies at the Sejong Institute.
The North has carried out three ICBM tests, the last in November 2017, of a Hwasong-15 — deemed powerful enough to reach the continental United States.
“Kim Jong Un wants to ultimately establish himself as a leader who has successfully developed both nuclear weapons and ICBMs,” Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar said. – INDIA TODAY