North Korea launches an ICBM into the Sea of Japan

Seoul and Tokyo claim that North Korea launched an ICBM at the Sea of Japan a few days before a joint military exercise by the US and South Korea.

The Japanese government declared Saturday that it would work more closely with the US and South Korea, calling the act “completely inexcusable.”

Hirokazu Matsuno, a spokesman for the Japanese government, stated on Saturday: “In the east, Pyongyang has fired an ICBC missile. She took a 66-minute flight.” The missile was fired from a platform and descended after travelling 900 kilometres and landing 5700 meters west of the island of Hokkaido.

In the UN Security Council and at the meeting of the G7 foreign ministers, Japan has already voiced its opposition to the test through diplomatic channels and pledged to “work closely with the international community, including the United States and South Korea.” The spokesman declared that North Korea’s recent actions “threaten the peace and stability of Japan and are completely inexcusable.” The operation of the rocket was now a subject of interest to Japanese authorities.

The missile had a range of about 14,000 kilometres, and according to Japanese Defense Minister Kazuya Hamada, it could reach the continental United States. A Hwasong-17 ICBM with a comparable flight time that North Korea had previously fired in November also made landfall in the water west of the island of Hokkaido.

Only a few days have passed since a combined US-South Korean military exercise before Saturday’s missile launch. Only on Friday did North Korea warn of an “unprecedented” response to the military drill that South Korea and the US claim is intended to simulate what would happen if Pyongyang used nuclear weapons.

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North Korea strongly condemns the annual military drills between the two nations; on Friday, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry labelled the drills “preparations for an aggressive war.” The United States and South Korea declared at the end of January that they would expand their manoeuvres in response to the recent sharp rise in tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, declared in November that he wished to make his nation the “most powerful nuclear power in the world.” North Korea has carried out unheard-of military tests over the past year, including launching its most sophisticated ICBM in November.

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