North Korea tests long range ballistic missile Seoul says CNN

North Korea tests long-range ballistic missile, Seoul says

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) North Korea launched a suspected long-range ballistic missile on Saturday afternoon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, a day after Pyongyang warned of “unprecedented strong responses” should the US and South Korea go ahead with planned military exercises.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the missile landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone west of the northern main island of Hokkaido, prompting condemnation from the United States.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile reached an altitude of 5,700 kilometers (3,541 miles) and traveled a distance of about 900 kilometers (559 miles). It was launched from the Sunan area of ​​Pyongyang around 5:22 p.m. local time on Saturday, South Korea’s JCS said.

Japanese officials said the missile flew for more than 60 minutes.

North Korea launched a missile with a slightly longer flight distance and time last March. This projectile was believed to be an ICBM, the first test of such a missile since 2017.

In November, after another similar launch, Pyongyang announced the “test firing of a new kind” ICBM, dubbed Hwasong-17.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said at the time it had the potential to reach the US mainland. “The ICBM-class ballistic missile launched this time could have a range of over 15,000km when calculated based on the flight distance of this ICBM,” Hamada said in a statement. “It depends on the weight of the warhead, but in that case the US mainland would be included in the range.”

North Korea is testing its missiles at a very high trajectory. In theory, if they were fired on a flatter trajectory, they would have a chance of reaching the US mainland.

The US government described Saturday’s missile launch as a “blatant violation of several UN Security Council resolutions,” according to a statement by White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson.

“While [the US Indo-Pacific Command] has assessed that it poses no immediate threat to US personnel or territory or our allies, this launch unnecessarily increases tensions and risks destabilizing the security environment in the region,” Watson said. “It just shows that the DPRK continues to prioritize its illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people.”

Watson said the US is urging other countries “to condemn these violations and to call on the DPRK to stop its destabilizing actions and engage in serious dialogue.”

Earlier this month, the Kim Jong Un regime unveiled nearly at least 11 advanced ICBMs in a nighttime military parade in Pyongyang in the largest demonstration yet of what its state media called North Korea’s “nuclear attack capability.”

Analysts said those missiles appeared to be Hwasong-17.

Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on social media that if each missile in the parade was equipped with multiple nuclear warheads, they could represent enough volume to overwhelm US missile defenses.

Saturday’s test came after North Korea’s foreign ministry on Friday attacked the United States and South Korea over their plans for upcoming military exercises.

Washington and Seoul are expected to hold nuclear tabletop exercises at the Pentagon next week, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said on Friday. The allies are also expected to hold military exercises on the Korean peninsula next month.

North Korea also said in the same statement it would consider additional military measures if the UN Security Council continued to pressure Pyongyang “as the United States wants.”

In January, Kim Jong Un called for “an exponential increase in the country’s nuclear arsenal” and stressed the “need for mass production of tactical nuclear weapons,” according to the country’s state media outlet KCNA.

Kim had called for the development of a new “intercontinental ballistic missile system” capable of rapid nuclear counter-strike, according to the KCNA report.