International News

North Korea Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile ‘With Range to Hit U.S.’

North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile on Friday with the range to hit the US, a day after it warned of “fiercer military responses” if Washington further bolsters its security ties with South Korea and Japan.

The latest launch adds to a record number of missile tests by the country this year after it resumed testing of ICBMs – its longest-range weapon and designed to carry a nuclear warhead capable of striking the US mainland – for the first time since 2017.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected a ballistic missile launch off the North’s eastern coast on Friday morning around 10.15 am, later reporting the weapon was likely an intercontinental ballistic missile. It flew 621 miles while reaching a maximum altitude of 3760 miles.

Japan’s Coast Guard said the missile was likely to have landed in the sea roughly 130 miles west of an island in northern Hokkaido, in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Japanese defence minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile was capable of reaching the US.

“Based on calculations taking the trajectory into account, the ballistic missile this time around could have had a range capability of 15,000km, depending on the weight of its warhead, and if that’s the case, it means the US mainland was within its range,” he said.

The Misawa Air Base on the island of Honshu issued a shelter in place alert after the firing of the missile, according to the US Air Force.

In response, leaders of the United States, South Korea, Japan and allied countries convened an emergency meeting during an Asian summit on Friday, condemning the launch and calling for a united response.

Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister slammed the test live on Japanese TV.

“We naturally lodged a strong protest against North Korea, which has repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency,” Mr Kishida said from Thailand, where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting.

“I want to restate that we cannot accept such actions.”

On Thursday, Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile as Choe Son Hui, the North Korean foreign minister, warned that Washington was taking a “gamble it will regret” by boosting its military presence in the region.

“Pyongyang is trying to disrupt international cooperation against it by escalating military tensions and suggesting it has the capability of holding American cities at risk of nuclear attack,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

“The Kim regime talks about self-defence and sovereignty as if North Korea were a normal country, but it is developing illegal nuclear weapons and missiles, plotting long-term struggle against its neighbour, and egregiously abusing human rights.”

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