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North Korea Launches Missile

North Korea Launches Missile
Courtesy of Patrick Kinney (Flickr CC0)

On Tuesday, September 4, North Korea launched a missile for the first time in five years. They fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile from North Korea’s northern Jagang province at around 7:23 a.m. local time. It flew over Japan before it splashed down into the Pacific Ocean. Flew for about 19 minutes and 2,796 miles to the east. It reached an altitude of 603 miles and flew at a top speed of Mach 17, or 17 times the speed of sound (Mach). Japan has said the missile investigation is closed, but there is still pressure on other governments to keep sanctions against Pyongyang intact.

The missile was launched at 7:23 a.m. local time from Sain-ni, Jagang Province, and flew 2,796 miles to the east before landing in the Sea of Japan about 600 miles off its coast. It is thought to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), but it’s unclear whether or not it could travel that far without further modifications.

The country has not fired missiles in five years, and the last missile test occurred in 2017. The reclusive nation is still working on its nuclear program, which it claims is for defensive purposes only.

North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday morning has renewed safety concerns throughout the region. It flew over Japan, prompting emergency evacuations and missile alerts in Japan and South Korea before it splashed down into the Pacific Ocean.

Japan’s Defense Ministry confirmed that the North Korean projectile was an intermediate-range Hwasong-12, which traveled 2,700 miles (4,350 kilometers) before breaking apart around 20 minutes after it was launched at 7:57 a.m. local time (23:57 GMT Monday). The U.S., South Korea, and China all condemned Pyongyang’s actions as violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from conducting long-range missile tests or nuclear weapons development activities. “We strongly condemn this provocation by North Korea,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Tuesday morning at his office in Tokyo.

“This reckless act of launching a missile that flies over our country is an unprecedentedly serious and grave threat,” he said.”I’d like to urge international society together with China to take serious measures against North Korea,” Abe added. “We will never tolerate such repeated provocations from North Korea,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a press conference later that day after being asked whether there were any plans for retaliation against Pyongyang by Tokyo following this latest incident.

“The government will continue to keep close contact with relevant countries including the U.S., South Korea, and Russia through various channels,” Suga told reporters later Tuesday afternoon after being asked if there were any plans for retaliation against Pyongyang by Tokyo following this latest incident

The launch came just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in almost two weeks.

The missile was fired from Pukchang Airfield near Pyongyang and could have landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a sea area where a nation has special rights over the exploration and use of natural resources like fish or oil under international law.

It was fired from Pukchang Airfield in South Pyongan Province in North Korea at around 5:30 am local time to the northwest, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Japan has said the missile investigation is closed. Japan’s Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters on Monday that the country will not shoot down any missiles that fly over its territory, but will shoot down any missiles that threaten its territory.

North Korea has been testing missiles since the 1960s, and it has now tested them in 2016, 2017, and 2018. The latest test was the first time that North Korea successfully demonstrated an intercontinental range ballistic missile (ICBM).

This means that they have tested all of their different missile types with a range of capabilities—including nuclear-armed missiles. These tests have shown us that North Korea’s missiles can reach most parts of Japan and possibly even some U.S. territories like Guam or Alaska.

The two leaders have previously discussed the need for more sanctions on North Korea, but they have disagreed on how best to handle the situation. Meanwhile, Japan’s prime minister has condemned the launch as a “reckless act that threatens world peace.”

Written by Agustin Perez

Sources

NPR: North Korea fires a ballistic missile over Japan

Washington Post: North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan, prompting evacuation order

Politico: North Korea sends missile soaring over Japan

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of  Patrick Kinney Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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