North Korea Fires New Ballistic Missile
North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Friday, responding to new UN sanctions with what appeared to be its furthest-ever missile flight amid high tensions over its weapons programs.
The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of measures on the isolated country following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month.
It was by far its largest to date and Pyongyang said it was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile.
In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later Friday.
The US Pacific Command confirmed Friday’s rocket was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) and said it did not pose a threat to North America or to the US Pacific territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has threatened to bracket with “enveloping fire”.
Seoul’s defense ministry said it probably travelled around 3,700 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers.
It was “the furthest over ground any of their ballistic missiles has ever travelled”, Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter.
Millions of Japanese were jolted awake by blaring sirens and emergency text message alerts after the missile was fired.
“Missile launch! missile launch! A missile appears to have been launched from North Korea,” loudspeakers blared on Cape Erimo, on Hokkaido’s southern tip.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could “never tolerate” what he called a “dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace”.
“If North Korea continues to walk down this path, it has no bright future,” he told reporters. “We must make North Korea understand this.”
Tokyo had protested to Pyongyang in the “strongest words possible”, chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga added.