North Korea has launched two ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan, one of which exploded immediately after launch, according to the US. The move has been condemned by the country’s southern neighbor, as well as Japan and Washington.
The projectile that was launched at about 7:50am local time (around midnight GMT), and, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, flew for about 1,000 km (620 miles) before landing in Japan’s economic exclusion zone. US Strategic Command said it had also detected a second launch which resulted in failure.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff termed the latest launch part of a North Korean ambition to “directly and broadly attack neighboring countries and target several places in the Republic of Korea such as ports and airfields.”
Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani said the projectile, which appeared to be a medium-range Rodong missile, landed in the Sea of Japan some 150 miles (250km) off the country’s northern coast.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the test a“serious threat against our country’s security,” adding that “this is an outrageous act that cannot be tolerated.”
Commenting on the latest launch, the US State Department spokeswoman Julia Mason said: “We remain prepared to work with our allies and partners around the world to respond to further DPRK provocations, as well as to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”
The launch from the western region into the sea off the country’s east coast is the latest in a series of ballistic missile tests by the North in recent months. During the previous test, carried out last month, the North fired three ballistic missiles into the sea.
The rockets fired on July 19 had a range of up to 600 kilometers (360 miles), and were presumed to have been Scud-types projectiles which have enough range to reach all of South Korea.
The recent tests, which violate UN Security Council resolutions, are believed to be the North’s way of retaliating against a US decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea.
The launch comes following the publication of Japan’s Defense White Paper which said that North Korea’s nuclear program poses a direct threat to Japan. The report claimed that most likely the North has mastered long-range ballistic missile technology capable of reaching more than 6,200 miles and has nuclear warheads that weigh under a ton. Such technology does not only make Japan vulnerable to a potential attack, but also the US mainland and any of its partners in South East Asia.