Missile fears | 

Evacuation warnings in Japan as North Korea fires suspected intercontinental ballistic missile

This was Pyongyang’s seventh suspected ICBM launch this year, a day after the hermit kingdom hit the alarming milestone of firing a record 23 missiles, the most it fired in a day

Miyagi Prefectural Government officials watch a TV news about North Korea's firing of ballistic missiles at the office in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture Photo: Kyodo/via Reuters© REUTERS

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. South Korea says it has issued an air raid alert for residents on an island off its eastern coast after North Korea fired a few missiles toward the sea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)© AP/PA Images

Shweta SharmaUK Independent

North Korea launched a suspected new type of banned intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) among its latest three missile tests, forcing Japan to issue evacuation alerts and halt trains.

This was Pyongyang’s seventh suspected ICBM launch this year, a day after the hermit kingdom hit the alarming milestone of firing a record 23 missiles, the most it fired in a day.

On Thursday, North Korea fired an ICBM from an area near capital Pyongyang around 7.40am local time, followed by launches of two short-range ballistic missiles an hour later, according to South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The first missile test triggered an emergency response in Japan after it initially said the missile flew over its territory, before retracting that assessment.

Tokyo issued evacuation alerts to thousands of residents living in the central prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata at 7.50am local time, following that assessment.

But it is unclear as of now if the ICBM test was a success. Neighbour South Korea said the missile appeared to have failed during flight.

“North Korea’s ICBM launch is presumed to have ended in failure,” said the South Korean military, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The long-range missile was fired on a high angle, possibly to avoid making it land into the territory of its neighbours. The missile reached a maximum altitude of 1,920km and traveled 760km, according to the South Korean military.

But it failed during the second stage after the separation of the propellant and warhead sections, a defence source told the outlet.

The latest launches come a day after North Korea fired 23 – the most number of missiles in one day – including one projectile that landed close to South Korea’s waters, activating air raid sirens to alert the country’s residents on Ulleung island to take cover.

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022. South Korea says it has issued an air raid alert for residents on an island off its eastern coast after North Korea fired a few missiles toward the sea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)© AP/PA Images

South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol said this was effectively “a territorial invasion by a missile”.

It marked the first time since the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945, that the North’s weapons landed so close to its neighbour’s territory – just 26km beyond the northern limit line.

The latest test triggered an alarm in Japan, second time this year. Last month, North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years.

Japan’s defense minister Yasukazu Hamada said his military lost track of the weapon after it “disappeared” in skies above the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

He deplored North Korea for putting citizens in danger by flying a missile close to their territory.

In an updated statement, Japan said the missile did “not cross the Japanese archipelago, but disappeared over the Sea of Japan”.

Before the updated assessment, the office of Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida broadcast alerts through television, radio, mobile phones and public loudspeakers and asked them to go inside firm buildings or take cover underground.

Mr Kishida later slammed North Korea for “repeated missile launches” and called them an “outrage”.

The US, South Korea and Japan condemned the ICBM firing, saying it was a “flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions”.

“This launch, in addition to the launch of multiple other ballistic missiles this week, is a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilising the security situation in the region,” Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, said.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken held a telephone call with South Korean foreign minister Park Jin over Wednesday’s missile launches, including the one that “recklessly and dangerously” landed near the South Korean coastline, and stressed the “ironclad” US commitment to the security of its ally.

North Korea’s record number of launches this year – more than 60 missile launches overall – have increased tensions in the Korean Peninsula at an unprecedented rate as fears grow that Kim Jong-un is ready to conduct a seventh nuclear test.

Its latest spree of tests in recent months is being considered a protest sign against Washington’s attempts of developing closer ties with its neighbours Japan and South Korea by holding several joint drills.


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