North Korea launches another missile, escalating crisis

Japan warns people to take shelter
A Hyunmoo-2 missile is fired by South Korea’s military during an exercise Sept. 4, 2017.
A Hyunmoo-2 missile is fired by South Korea’s military during an exercise Sept. 4, 2017.

HONG KONG — North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, a bold test that defied the new sanctions resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council earlier this week, as well as repeated warnings from around the world that the country should stop raising tensions.

The missile blasted off from near the Sunan International Airport north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and flew about 2,300 miles, flying over northern Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. The missile reached a maximum altitude of 478 miles.

The Japanese government said the missile landed in waters about 1,240 miles east of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

It was the 15th missile test by North Korea this year and the first since North Korea detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb to date on Sept. 3.

South Korean officials said they were still analyzing the flight data to determine what type of missile was launched.

In any case, it flew longer than any other missile North Korea has fired.

In its last missile test, conducted on Aug. 29, North Korea fired its intermediate-range ballistic missile Hwasong-12 from the Sunan International Airport. The missile arced over Hokkaido island and splashed into the northern Pacific, after a flight of nearly 1,700 miles.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has since threatened to launch more missiles into the Pacific.

In Japan early Friday, an alert was issued on television and via cellphones, warning people to take shelter inside a building or underground.

Yoshihide Suga, chief Cabinet secretary to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said that Japan “absolutely cannot accept the repeated outrageous provocative actions by North Korea” and lodged an official protest with Pyongyang, “conveying the strong fury of the Japanese people as well as condemning the action with the strongest words.”

The North’s missile program had been known more for failures than successes until it made a rush of advances this year. Analysts say a powerful new engine lies behind a string of successful tests, and as a result, the North has increased the frequency and potency of its experiments.

North Korea has launched more than 80 missiles since Kim came to power in 2011. It last tested a missile on Aug. 28, when it fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan. That missile, which flew 1,700 miles before crashing into the sea, led the Japanese government to issue emergency warnings to the public.

A month earlier, on July 28, the North tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that reached an altitude of 2,300 miles and that experts said had the potential to hit the West Coast of the United States.

The recent missile tests have been made more troubling — and provocative — by the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. This month, the country detonated its largest nuclear bomb to date, a device four to 16 times larger than anything it had previously tested, according to experts.

The nuclear and missile tests have strained the region’s nerves, led to an additional round of international sanctions and challenged President Donald Trump’s administration to project a cohesive policy on the conflict.

Last month, Trump threatened that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the country continued its provocations.

Soon after, the North said “an enveloping fire” would surround Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific where the United States operates an Air Force base. Guam, like South Korea and Japan, is a likely target of the North’s aggression, should the conflict on the Korean Peninsula escalate.

Categories: News

Leave a Reply