N. Korea Fires Ballistic Missile into Sea of Japan

Reuters file photo
The flag of North Korea

Seoul/Tokyo (Jiji Press)—North Korea fired what is believed to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile from near Pyongyang into the Sea of Japan at around 6:53 a.m. Tuesday, the South Korean military said.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also said that a ballistic missile was launched from North Korea.

According to Japanese government officials, the missile is seen to have fallen into waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The ministry said that the missile reached a maximum altitude of about 100 kilometers and flew over roughly 650 kilometers. No damage to aircraft or ships has been confirmed.

This was North Korea’s first missile launch since March 18.

The country test-fired an intermediate-range solid-fuel ballistic missile with a hypersonic maneuverable controlled warhead in January, and succeeded in a ground combustion test of a solid-fuel engine for the missile last month.

The latest launch is believed to have been conducted to test the performance of the solid-fuel engine.

Following the missile launch, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed his government to promptly and appropriately provide information to the public, confirm the safety of aircraft and ships and prepare for any contingency.

The missile launch “affects the safety of not only Japan but also the region and the international community, and is absolutely unacceptable,” Kishida told reporters at the prime minister’s office. He said Tokyo has already lodged a protest over the matter.

Late last year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is planning to launch three military reconnaissance satellites this year.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told a press conference Tuesday that the latest missile launch is not believed to have been aimed at firing a satellite into space.

Hayashi added that North Korea may carry out more missile launches in the future, and said that the Japanese government will put full efforts into warning and surveillance.

Meanwhile, Seoul is on high alert over the possibility of further provocations by its northern neighbor, ahead of the South Korean general election on April 10.

The South Korean military said that it maintains the capability and preparedness to deal with any provocation.