North Korea fires first suspected intercontinental ballistic missile in five years

Japan says missile appears to be a new model and breaches Kim Jong-un’s self-imposed moratorium on such tests

North Korea missile tests

North Korea has test-fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017, South Korea and Japan said.

The projectile, fired on Thursday, landed in the sea 170km west of Japan’s northern prefecture of Aomori and inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, authorities said.

Japan’s vice defence minister Makoto Oniki said the projectile appeared to be a new model of an intercontinental ballistic missile, given it reached an altitude of more than 6,000km.

According to the South, the long-range missile was fired on a “lofted” trajectory high into space. South Korean president Moon Jae-in convened an emergency national security council meeting and accused the North of breaking a moratorium on launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

This was the North’s first alleged full-capability launch of an ICBM in five years after Kim Jong-un threatened to resume such testing following stalled denuclearisation talks with the US in 2019.

This was also the North’s 12th major launch this year, amid rising concerns over its weapons arsenal. The country has test-fired an unprecedented number of missiles since the beginning of the year, drawing condemnation from its neighbours South Korea and Japan along with the United States.

“This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilising the security situation in the region,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilising actions.”

On Sunday, the North fired suspected artillery pieces into the sea. It has conducted two medium-range tests from near its capital Pyongyang in recent weeks that the US and South Korean militaries later assessed as involving components of the North’s largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – Hwasong-1, which was first unveiled during a military parade in 2020.

“The purpose of these tests, which did not demonstrate ICBM range, was likely to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch,” a US official was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Earlier on 16 March, North Korea launched a suspected missile that explode shortly after liftoff over the capital. Debris fell near Pyongyang after the test, according to Seoul-based NK News, which cited a photograph showing a ball of smoke and a plume that was the apparent launch trajectory of the rocket.

According to the US and South Korean militaries, the North is preparing to test the ICBM at full range soon. Some experts believe the launch could take place in April around the birthday of state founder Kim Il-sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in