North Korea launches 1,000km missile towards Japan after threatening US

Pyongyang warned Washington of ‘shocking’ repercussions over alleged spy planes

South Koreans watch news broadcast
South Koreans watch news broadcast of missile launch
(Image credit: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

North Korea has fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards Japan after warning of counteraction for alleged US reconnaissance activities in the region.

The missile was launched from capital Pyongyang today at 9.59am local time and travelled for 74 minutes to an altitude of 6,000km (3,725 miles) and range of 1,000km (620 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, according to Japanese defence officials. The test marks “the longest ever flight time for a North Korean missile”, said The Asahi Shimbun paper.

The launch took place as top US General Mark Milley concluded a “rare trilateral meeting” with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Hawaii, Reuters reported. Washington is “pressing the uneasy neighbours to work more closely to better counter rising threats” from Pyongyang and China.

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North Korea warned on Monday of potential “shocking” repercussions after accusing the US of violating its air space at least eight times.

“In case of repeated illegal intrusion, the US forces will experience a very critical flight,” Kim Yo Jong, sister of leader Kim Jong Un, said in a statement published by the hermit state’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Since 2017, North Korea has conducted “a slew of ICBM tests” in an apparent bid “to flex its military muscles with weapons capable of striking major US cities”, The Independent said.

North Korea’s long-range ballistic missiles are believed to be capable of travelling further than 5,500km (3,400 miles) and delivering nuclear warheads.

Pyongyang has also test-fired a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile, which is “quicker and more mobile” than the liquid-propelled versions, said The Washington Post, “making it more difficult for satellites to spot launch preparations”.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told The Independent that the latest launch might be an attempt by Pyongyang “to disrupt what it perceives as diplomatic coordination against it, in this case, South Korea and Japan’s leaders meeting during the Nato summit” in Lithuania and the Asean Regional Forum in Indonesia.

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Arion McNicoll is a freelance writer at The Week Digital and was previously the UK website’s editor. He has also held senior editorial roles at CNN, The Times and The Sunday Times. Along with his writing work, he co-hosts “Today in History with The Retrospectors”, Rethink Audio’s flagship daily podcast, and is a regular panellist (and occasional stand-in host) on “The Week Unwrapped”. He is also a judge for The Publisher Podcast Awards.