SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, its neighbors said, two days after it threatened the US over what it said spy planes invaded its airspace.
The South Korean military confirmed that at around 10 a.m. Wednesday (9 p.m. Tuesday ET), North Korea launched a suspected long-range missile to the east from the outskirts of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital. It said surveillance had been strengthened and it was maintaining military preparedness in close coordination with the US
Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said while details were still being analyzed, the missile had flown for an estimated 74 minutes before falling into the Sea of Japan about 11:13 a.m. about 155 miles west of Okushiri Island in Japan. Hokkaido.
Launched at a high trajectory, the rocket was estimated to have traveled 1,000 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of about 6,000 kilometers. Matsuno said it landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no reports of damage in the area.
Nuclear-armed North Korea launched its first ICBMs in 2017 as part of its effort to develop long-range weapons capable of reaching the mainland US. It then observed a self-imposed moratorium on such launches until last year, when it resumed testing ICBMs amid stalled talks about denuclearization. North Korea is also believed to be preparing for its seventh nuclear test, its first since 2017.
Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first missile test since June 15 and the first time it has launched an ICBM since April. Both South Korea and Japan condemned it as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.
“These actions by North Korea threaten not only the peace and security of our country, but also of the region and the international community, and that is absolutely unacceptable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in Lithuania, where he is attending a summit conference. of NATO, the US-led military alliance.
Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who is also at the summit, are expected to meet on Wednesday as part of efforts to improve relations between their countries, both US allies with close ties to NATO but no formal membership.
Yoon called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council from Lithuania in response to the launch, his office said.
Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said this week that a US military spy plane illegally entered North Korea’s eastern exclusive economic zone eight times on Monday and was chased away by North Korean warplanes. Countries have the right to control marine resources within their exclusive economic zones, which extend 200 nautical miles from their territory, but they have no sovereignty over the surface of the water or the airspace above it.
Kim warned that a “shocking incident” could occur if the US invaders continued. The North Korean defense ministry also said such flights could be shot down.
The South Korean military said the flight activity of the US-South Korea alliance was normal and dismissed North Korea’s claims as “completely ridiculous”.
The US government also rejected Kim’s allegations, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller urging North Korea to “abstain from escalating actions” and “engage in serious and sustained diplomacy”.
Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said the US military has always operated responsibly, safely and in accordance with international law.
“Those allegations are just accusations,” she told reporters on Monday.
Despite international sanctions, North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons and missile programs. In April, it tested its first solid-fuel ICBM, which experts say is more difficult to detect and counter than liquid-fueled missiles. It is not clear how close the North is to having functioning nuclear-armed ICBMs capable of hitting the US mainland.
In May, North Korea also tried but failed to launch a military spy satellite. The South Korean military, which recovered the wreckage of the downed satellite, said last week it appeared to be of no military use.
North Korea and South Korea have remained embroiled in conflict since the Korean War, which ended 70 years ago this month in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.