North Korea conducted a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, ahead of the Tokyo summit. Just hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan about to meet. Which was expected to be overshadowed by North Korean nuclear threats.
The North’s first ICBM test in a month and third weapons test this week. Which also comes as South Korean and U.S. troops continue joint military exercises that Pyongyang considers a rehearsal to invade.
The missile flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) with a maximum altitude of 6,000 kilometers (3,730 miles) during the 70-minute flight. That’s similar to the flight details from a February launch of another ICBM. Which experts said demonstrated a potential range to reach deep into the U.S. mainland.
The missile fell in the waters between the Korea Peninsula and Japan after being launched on a steep trajectory. Apparently to avoid neighboring countries. Japan said the missile landed outside its exclusive economic zone. There were no reports of damage of ships and aircraft.
North Korea has yet to test ICBMs on a standard trajectory, but it has repeatedly claimed it possesses functioning nuclear missiles. Some foreign experts still doubt the North has mastered the technologies needed to build warheads small enough to be placed on those missiles and protect the warheads during atmospheric reentry.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Washington will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and its allies South Korea and Japan. She said the launch “needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.”
Before heading Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said, “North Korea’s reckless provocations will pay the clear price.”
During an emergency security meeting on the North Korean launch, Yoon instructed the South Korean military to thoroughly proceed with its ongoing exercises with U.S. forces, conduct some of the planned joint drills in an intensive manner and strengthen Seoul-Washington-Tokyo security cooperation, according to Yoon’s office.
In Tokyo, Kishida said: “We must further strengthen cooperation among the allies and like-minded countries.”