North Korea fires ballistic missile into sea between Koreas, Japan


North Korea launched a ballistic missile at a high angle that landed between the Korean Peninsula and Japan early Thursday, continuing a frenzied run of weapons tests.

The launch prompted Japan to issue an evacuation order that was later withdrawn for a northern island, showing North Korea’s neighbors wary of its evolving missile threats.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile, launched from near North Korea’s capital Pyongyang, flew toward waters off the northeast coast. The statement described the missile as medium- or long-range but did not say how far it flew.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that North Korea launched a possible intercontinental ballistic missile at a high angle. Hamada said the missile did not reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that he planned a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the launch. Asked about the accuracy of Japan’s transmission of information about future North Korean launches, Kishida said the government was investigating relevant information, including warnings.

North Korea usually conducts missile tests towards the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. All of its earlier ICBM launches were conducted in the region, but on high trajectories to avoid neighboring countries.

South Korea and Japan typically do not issue evacuation orders for North Korean launches unless they determine that the weapons were fired in the direction of their territories.
But after Thursday’s start, the Japanese government urged people to take shelter on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Then the government corrected it and took it back Missile warningsaid its analysis showed there was no possibility of the missile landing near Hokkaido. It is unclear why Japan issued an order for a missile that did not land near the island, but the incident suggests it is wary of North Korea’s evolving missile threats.

Last October, Japanese officials issued a similar evacuation order after a North Korean medium-range missile flew over Japan in a launch that demonstrated its ability to reach the US Pacific territory of Guam.

At the time, Japanese authorities alerted residents of its northeastern regions to take shelter and stop trains, although no damage was reported before the weapon landed in the Pacific.

Thursday’s launch comes days after its leader Kim Jong Un vowed to expand his nuclear arsenal in more “: practical and offensive” ways.

North Korea has launched nearly 100 missiles this year and in 2022, many of them nuclear-capable warheads that put the US, South Korea and Japan within lethal range.

Also Read: Take All Possible Precautions: Japan PMOs After North Korea Fires Missile Towards East Sea

Many South Korean-American military exercises were in response to what it sees as a rehearsal for an attack.

Some observers say North Korea wants to use its adversaries’ exercises to pressure Washington and Seoul into making concessions such as modernizing its weapons arsenal and lifting economic sanctions.

South Korean and US officials say their drills are defensive in nature and arranged to respond to North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats. According to North Korea’s official Korean Central, during a military meeting on Monday, Kim reviewed the country’s frontline attack plans and various battle documents and strengthened its nuclear deterrent in a “more practical and offensive” manner. emphasized the need for news agency

There are concerns that North Korea could conduct its first nuclear test in more than five years after it unveiled a new type of nuclear weapon earlier this month.
Foreign experts debate whether North Korea has developed smaller and lighter warheads to fit on its more advanced missiles.

South Korean officials say North Korea has not been answering South Korean calls to a set of inter-Korean hotlines across the border for nearly a week. The North’s alleged suspension of communications on those channels may be worrisome as they are meant to prevent accidental clashes along the rivals’ disputed western sea border.

On Tuesday, South Korean Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, Seoul’s point man on the North, expressed “deep regret” over North Korea’s “unilateral and irresponsible attitude” to the hotlines.

Kwon also warned of unspecified legal action over the North’s use of South Korean assets in the now-defunct Inter-Korean Factory Park in North Korea. South Korea pulled its companies out of North Korea’s Kaesong in 2016 after the North’s nuclear test, removing the last remaining major sign of cooperation between the rivals.

North Korean state media recently showed South Korean buses plying the streets of Kaesong and Pyongyang. North Korea’s advancing nuclear arsenal is expected to be a major topic during a summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and US President Joe Biden in Washington later this month.

Yoon’s government is seeking strong US assurances that it will decisively and swiftly use all its military capabilities, including nuclear, to defend South Korea in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack.

The influx of North Korean weapons tests has also increased the urge for Seoul and Tokyo to strengthen their defense posture along with their alliance with the United States.

Experts say that the discussion between the world leaders in the meeting of the Group of Seven to be held in Japan next month may also be important in order to maintain diplomatic pressure on North Korea in view of the turmoil in the United Nations Security Council.

Permanent members China and Russia have halted tougher sanctions on North Korea in recent months, reflecting a rift deepened by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

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