- Defense & Security
North Korea Fires ICBM-Class Missile Into Sea of Japan; Missiles Launched on 2 Consecutive Days
16:25 JST, December 18, 2023
North Korea launched a ballistic missile from the suburbs of Pyongyang in a northeasterly direction at around 8:24 a.m. on Monday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.
No damage to Japanese ships and other objects has so far been confirmed.
According to the ministry, the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-class missile flew for about 73 minutes. It likely fell into the Sea of Japan about 250 kilometers northwest of Okushiri Island, Hokkaido, at about 9:37 a.m., outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
North Korea had fired another ballistic missile on the previous day, thereby launching missiles two days in a row.
The missile is believed to have been launched in a high-angle “lofted trajectory” with a traveling distance of 1,000 kilometers and a maximum altitude of over 6,000 kilometers. If launched at a normal angle, the range is estimated to exceed 15,000 kilometers, which would put the entire United States within its range, Shingo Miyake, a parliamentary secretary for defense, told reporters at the Defense Ministry.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he “strongly condemns the missile launch, not only because it is a clear violation of relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, but also because it threatens the peace and stability of the region,” at a meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday morning.
On the same day, the Japan government lodged a strong protest with North Korea through its embassy channels in Beijing. The government held a National Security Council meeting to discuss the response.
According to the Defense Ministry, North Korea also launched another ballistic missile from near the country’s western coast in an easterly direction at around 10:37 p.m. on Sunday. The missile is estimated to have had a maximum altitude of about 50 kilometers and traveled about 400 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan, outside Japan’s EEZ.
The ministry believes it was a short-range ballistic missile. According to the South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the launch took place near Pyongyang, with the missile flying about 570 kilometers.
North Korea issued a Defense Ministry spokesperson’s discourse on Sunday night, immediately after the first missile launch, criticizing the fact that the United States and South Korea agreed at a Nuclear Consultative Group meeting on Friday to complete guidelines for the planning and operation of nuclear strategy.
Pyongyang hinted at further armed provocations, saying, “it was a blatant declaration of nuclear confrontation. It is increasingly urgent to choose a more aggressive response.”
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