North Korea has fired what neighbouring countries said appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a day after launching a smaller missile and warning of “fiercer military responses” to the United States boosting its security presence in the region.
Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the weapon, which reached an altitude of 6,000km (3,730 miles), was capable of travelling as far as 15,000km (9,320 milles), giving it the range to reach the mainland of the United States.
The test missile travelled 1,000km (622 miles) on a lofted trajectory, and landed about 200km (124 miles) west of Oshima-Oshima island in the northern prefecture of Hokkaido, according to Japanese officials.
“We naturally lodged a strong protest against North Korea, which has repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Thailand, where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting. His remarks were televised live in Japan.
“We have told (Pyongyang) that we absolutely cannot tolerate such actions.”
South Korea’s defence ministry also described the missile as a probable ICBM, which is designed to carry a nuclear warhead, and said it was launched at about 10.15am (01:15 GMT).
The South’s President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered officials to push for strong sanctions during an emergency national security council meeting on Friday, as the White House said Vice President Kamala Harris, who is in Bangkok at a regional summit, would convene a meeting of world leaders to discuss the launch.
US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the launch “needlessly raises tensions” and shows that North Korea is prioritizing unlawful weapons programs over the wellbeing of its people.
“Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement,” Watson said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also strongly condemned North Korea’s launch of another intercontinental ballistic missile and reiterated his call on Pyongyang “to immediately desist from taking any further provocative actions,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Guterres also called on North Korea to comply with Security Council resolutions banning ballistic missile launches and take “immediate steps to resume dialogue leading to sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Haq said.