North Korea launches ICBM after threatening US over alleged spy flights

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday, its neighbors said, two days after threatening the United States with what it said were spy plane incursions into its space. air.

The South Korean military has confirmed that North Korea launched a suspected long-range ballistic missile eastward from the outskirts of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, at around 10 a.m. Wednesday (9 p.m. Tuesday ET). He said surveillance had been stepped up and he was maintaining his military preparedness in close cooperation with the United States.

Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said while details were still being worked out, the missile would have flown for 74 minutes before falling into the Sea of ​​Japan about 155 miles west of the ship. Okushiri Island in Hokkaido around 11:13 a.m.

The missile, which was launched on a high trajectory, is estimated to have traveled 620 miles and reached a maximum altitude of around 3,725 miles. Matsuno said he landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone and no damage was reported in the area.

Nuclear-armed North Korea launched its first ICBMs in 2017 as part of its effort to develop long-range weapons capable of reaching the American mainland. It then observed a self-imposed moratorium on such launches until last year, when it resumed ICBM testing amid a lockdown. talks about denuclearization. North Korea is also reportedly preparing for its seventh nuclear test, which would be the first since 2017.

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first missile test since June 15 and the first time it has launched an ICBM since April. South Korea and Japan have condemned it as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which ban North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.

“These actions of North Korea threaten the peace and security not only of our country but also of the region, as well as of the international community, and this is absolutely unacceptable,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in Lithuania. , where he participates in a summit. of NATO, the military alliance led by the United States.

Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, also at the summit, are due to meet on Wednesday as part of efforts to improve relations between their countries, both of which are US allies closely tied to NATO but not officially members. .

Yoon called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council from Lithuania in response to the launch, his office said.

Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, said this week that a US military spy plane illegally entered North Korea’s eastern exclusive economic zone on eight occasions on Monday and had been chased away by North Korean warplanes. Countries have the right to control marine resources within their exclusive economic zones, which extend 200 nautical miles from their territory, but they do not have sovereignty over the surface of the water or the airspace above. above.

Kim warned that a “shocking incident” could occur if US intrusions continue. The North Korean Defense Ministry also said these flights could be shot down.

South Korea’s military said the U.S.-Korea alliance’s flight activity was normal and dismissed North Korea’s claims as “totally ridiculous”.

The US government has also dismissed Kim’s accusations, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller urging North Korea to “refrain from escalating actions” and “engage in serious diplomacy and supported”.

Defense Department spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said the US military has always operated responsibly, safely and in accordance with international law.

“These accusations are just accusations,” she told reporters on Monday.

Despite international sanctions, North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons and missile programs. In April, it tested its first solid-fuel ICBM, which experts say is harder to detect and counter than liquid-fuel missiles. It is unclear how close the North is to having functional nuclear ICBMs capable of striking the continental United States.

In May, North Korea also tried unsuccessfully to launch what it said was a military spy satellite. The South Korean military, which recovered the wreckage of the downed satellite, said last week that it appeared to have no military use.

North Korea and South Korea have remained frozen in conflict since the Korean War, which ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty 70 years ago this month.

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