North Korea fired an “unidentified projectile” on Thursday. That’s what the South Korean military says. Pyongyang thus continues a series of launches since the beginning of the year.
“North Korea fired an unidentified projectile in an easterly direction,” the South Korean chiefs of staff said in a statement. The missile flew for 71 minutes and ended up in the Sea of Japan, about 150 kilometres from the Oshima Peninsula, the southernmost part of Hokkaido Island. The Japanese Ministry of Defense announced this.
The Japanese and South Korean authorities believe it is an intercontinental ballistic missile. According to Makoto Oniki, the number two of the Ministry of Defense, the missile flew at an altitude of more than 6,000 kilometres. That is much higher than the last intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea in November 2017.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense had no information about possible damage to ships or aircraft for the time being. Tokyo has called it a “serious threat” to Japan’s security. “At a time when the world faces the Russian invasion of Ukraine, North Korea continues to fire missiles that unilaterally amplify provocations against the international community. That is absolutely unforgivable,” said Oniki.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had promised the international community not to launch any more intercontinental ballistic missiles. Moon Jae-in said it is a violation of the United Nations sanctions regime.
Since the beginning of this year, Pyongyang has already conducted more than ten weapons tests. North Korea described two as “reconnaissance satellite” launches, but South Korea and the United States said they also included tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
North Korea is banned from testing missiles under United Nations resolutions. However, Pyongyang has been developing missiles that could be equipped with nuclear warheads for years. Harsh international sanctions are therefore in place against the North Korean regime.
Pyongyang has also declined any offer of dialogue since negotiations between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and then-US President Donald Trump failed in 2019.