North Korea launches an ICBM that lands off Japan
North Korea launched an ICBM yesterday and Japanese officials said its range was sufficient to reach the mainland United States and it landed just 200km off the coast of Japan. In response, the South Korean Air Force conducted drills to launch laser-guided bombing raids to hit decoy targets for transport units and missile launchers, while Japan and the United States conducted joint military drills in the airspace over the Sea of Japan.
In detail, the missile test, reported by officials in South Korea and Japan, came a day after North Korea launched a smaller missile and warned of “greater military response” to the United States’ increased security presence in the region.
The Japanese government said in a statement that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has warned of North Korea launching more missiles and the possibility of a nuclear test.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that the altitude indicated the missile was launched from a high angle. He said that depending on the weight of the warhead to be placed on the missile, the weapon’s range will exceed 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), “in which case it could cover the entire US mainland.”
Yesterday, Japan’s defense minister told reporters that the missile is capable of a range of up to 15,000 km, while Chief of Cabinet Hirokazu Matsuno said it had previously flown at an altitude of about 6,000 km with a range of 1,000 km crashed into the sea about 1,000 km away, 200 km west of the island of Oshima – Oshima in Hokkaido.
“The ballistic missile launched by North Korea appears to have fallen into our exclusive economic zone in western Hokkaido,” Kishida said, describing that missile launch as “completely unacceptable,” noting that there were no reports of damage to ships or aircraft. Kishida added, “We have expressed our strong protest to North Korea…Pyongyang is repeating provocative actions at an unprecedented pace.” We expressly point out that this is completely unacceptable. He continued, “Japan, the United States and South Korea must coordinate closely to work towards the full denuclearization of North Korea.”
Hamada called the launch “a reckless act that threatens Japan, as well as the region and the international community.” He said Japan will continue to work closely with the United States, South Korea and other countries to coordinate a joint response to North Korea’s provocations. South Korean President Yoon Sok-yol condemned the launch and called for increased defense preparedness and security cooperation with the United States and Japan.
For its part, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff described the launch as a “serious provocation and threat” to undermine international and regional peace and security. She said South Korea is ready to “deliver a scathing response to any North Korean provocation.” In response to North Korea’s ICBM launch, the South Korean air force conducted laser-guided bombing raids to hit decoy targets from transport units and rocket launchers.
F-35A stealth fighters have been dispatched to take part in the exercises, Bloomberg News reported yesterday.
South Korean F-35A and American F-16 conducted joint combat exercises.
Japan and the US, for their part, conducted joint military exercises in the airspace over the Sea of Japan, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement in Tokyo. “The Japanese Self-Defense Forces and US forces conducted a bilateral exercise … amid the increasingly intense security environment in Japan following North Korea’s launch of an ICBM,” the statement, issued by Japan’s Ministry of Defense, said.
The United States condemned the missile launch “in the strongest possible terms,” saying it “flagrantly violates many UN Security Council resolutions and unnecessarily increases tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.”
US Vice President Kamala Harris met with the heads of state and government of Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada in Bangkok. “On behalf of the United States, I reaffirm our unwavering commitment to our alliances in the Indo-Pacific region,” she said.
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