North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile with enough range to strike the US mainland, the Japanese defense minister claims.
According to Japanese officials, a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Friday had the potential range to strike the US mainland. The missile crashed into the sea about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Hokkaido, reported by NHK Japan.
The United States has condemned the launch, while South Korea has ordered tougher sanctions against the North.
North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned on Thursday of a “fiercer” response to any increased US military presence in the region.
On the same day, it also launched a short-range ballistic missile following a meeting in Cambodia on Sunday between South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, US President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the three countries agreed to increase military cooperation.
The three leaders issued a joint statement strongly condemning North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreeing to collaborate to strengthen deterrence.
North Korea launched 50 missiles in last two months
North Korea has launched more than 50 missiles in the last two months, the majority of which have been short-range. These long-range launches are unusual, as they pose a direct threat to the United States because the missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads to any location on the US mainland.
The latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was launched at 10:15 a.m. local time from near Pyongyang, reported by the Japanese state channel.
On a lofted trajectory, it reached an altitude of 6,100km and traveled 1,000km (621 miles) at a speed of Mach 22, according to South Korea’s military.
A lofted trajectory means that the missile flies much higher into space but for a much shorter distance than if fired on a normal trajectory.
However, Japan’s defence minister, Yasukazu Hamada, stated that the missile had enough range to reach the United States.
“Based on trajectory calculations, the ballistic missile this time could have had a range capability of 15,000km, depending on the weight of its warhead, and if that’s the case, it means the US mainland was within its range,” he said.
“We have told (Pyongyang) that such actions will not be tolerated,” Mr. Kishida told reporters in Thailand.