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North Korea fires suspected ICBM, its second this month


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, the South Korean and Japanese governments said, a day after it resumed weapons tests as it vowed “fiercer” military responses to the US’s strengthening its alliances with South Korea and Japan.

It would be the second ICBM North Korea has fired this month and the third this year, after it refrained from conducting such tests since 2017. The missiles are designed to strike the mainland US

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Bangkok, where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, that a ballistic missile had landed in waters west of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. He said there were no reports of damage to vessels or planes in the area.

A suspected ICBM was launched from the Soonan area in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, towards the country’s eastern waters around 10:15 am (8:15 pm Thursday ET), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry also said it appeared to be an ICBM-class ballistic missile. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it was believed to have flown about 620 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 3,728 miles.

Both the South Korean and Japanese governments convened emergency meetings. They said they were closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the US, which has military bases in both countries.

The launch is still being analyzed. It was most likely developmental as North Korea tries to improve its ICBMs, said Ankit Panda, a senior fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “has identified various modernization priorities for long-range missiles, and North Korea’s defense scientists have been hard at work for nearly two years now on realizing those goals,” he said in an email.

North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, most recently in response to joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea that it views as a rehearsal for invasion.

But it had been quiet for about a week until Thursday, when it launched a short-range ballistic missile towards its eastern waters. The launch appeared to be in protest of a trilateral summit in Cambodia on Sunday among the President Joe BidenSouth Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kishida, who vowed a unified and coordinated response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In a statement Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said the summit would lead to a “more unpredictable phase” in the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

US and South Korean officials say North Korea is also preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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