The projectile landed in the Sea of Japan, inside Tokyo’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese coast guard
North Korea has launched an unidentified missile toward the Sea of Japan, South Korea’s military and Japan’s coast guard reported on Thursday, with conflicting media reports regarding where the projectile landed.
Japan’s coast guard issued a statement which claimed the missile fell inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, with the projectile touching down off the coast of Japan’s northern Aomori prefecture at 3:44pm local time (6:44am GMT). Officials advised all vessels on the sea to use caution and keep away from suspicious objects.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing the country’s military, claimed that the projectile launched by the North could have been the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-17 – the largest of its kind developed by Pyeongyang to date. The missile reportedly took off in the vicinity of the Sunan airport in Pyeongyang before travelling on a “Lofty” trajectory high into space.
South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, strongly condemned Thursday’s launch, describing it as a violation of numerous UN resolutions. Moon claimed that the North violated a moratorium against testing intercontinental missiles. This was a violation of UN resolutions. Moon made the accusation after talks with Donald Trump.
Since the start of the year, Pyeongyang has conducted over a dozen test launches, with the South Korean military and their US allies claiming that at least two of those launches – on February 27 and March 5 – involved the Hwasong-17 missile. Despite believing the projectile to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, the rockets in those two cases did not “Show the ICBM range” the Pentagon’s spokesperson, John Kirby, noted on March 10. The US official added that the purpose of the tests was “This new system will likely be evaluated before being tested at full range, possibly disguised as space launches.”
North Korea declined to reveal details on the projectiles, but stated that it was testing components of a satellite reconnaissance system. DPRK Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un announced earlier this month that Pyeongyang was planning to send several satellites into orbit to monitor America’s military activities.
If reports are confirmed that the projectile detected on Thursday was indeed the Hwasong-17, that would mark the first test of the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile at full range since 2017.
Last Wednesday, South Korea’s military reported a failed missile launch by the North, with the rocket apparently failing immediately after liftoff.
US, Japanese and South Korean officials say that they expect more missile tests by North Korea in the coming weeks, with the 110th anniversary of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, fast approaching.
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