After Pyongyang threatened an unprecedented response to Western allies’ rumoured military drills within the region, a North Korean missile was launched into the Sea of Japan.
Officials from South Korea’s army said that the long-range missile was launched at 5.22pm (or 8.28am UK time) from Pyongyang’s international airport.
According to Tokyo’s vice-minister for defense Toshiro Toshiro Ino and Japan’s exclusive economic zones (EEZ), the rocket was able to land approximately 125 miles (201km), west of Oshima Island’s northwestern Oshima Island.
After South Korea announced a series military drills in the coming months, North Korea promised “unprecedently strong action” against “arch-criminal states.
Kim Jong Un was present at a massive military parade in Pyongyang last Wednesday, when troops rolled out more that a dozen intercontinental missiles (ICBMs), the largest ever held by North Korea.
This signalled that Pyongyang would continue to expand its military capabilities despite having limited resources. Negotiations with the United States remain in limbo.
Experts believe the stunt was related to Kim’s stated desire for a solid fuel ICBM. This would reduce the preparation time for launches and allow vehicles to be more easily transported, making transportation less apparent.
It is unknown what type of missile was fired at the moment.
Leif-Eric Easley, an international studies professor at Ewha Womans University, told AP that North Korean missile firings are often tests for technologies in development. It will be noteworthy if Pyongyang claims to have made progress with a long range solid-fuel missile.
North Korea launched more than 70 ballistic rockets last year, including ICBMs that could reach the mainland United States.
After the US attempted to court Mr Kim, COVID was reopened and large-scale drills resumed by allies.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to double his nuclear push in 2018, calling for an “exponential rise” in nuclear warheads and mass production of tactical battlefield nuclear weapons that target “enemy” South Korea. He also called for the development of more advanced ICBMs.
North Korea’s Friday statement accused Washington and Seoul, among others, of planning more that 20 rounds of military drills in the coming year. This included large-scale field exercises.
This statement was made hours after South Korea’s defense ministry officials informed politicians that Seoul will host an annual computer-simulated mixed training in March.
Japan broke with its defense-only post-Second World War doctrine in December and adopted a new national security strategy. This includes cruise missiles and pre-emptive strikes to counter the growing threats from Russia, China, and North Korea.