(Update 1: adds details on type of missiles launched, US, Japan, South Korea’s reactions)
Seoul, May 25 (EFE).- The first of the three missiles launched by North Korea on Wednesday is suspected to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), South Korea’s military said.
The suspected ICBM traveled 360 kilometers (224 miles) at a maximum altitude of 540 km, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
These calculations are similar to those of the Japanese military authorities, which also detected the launches.
The first of the launch took place around 6 am local time (21:00 GMT Tuesday) and the other two at 6.37 am and 6.42 am, according to the JCS, adding they all took place from Sunan area of Pyongyang.
The second weapon launched by the North, believed to be a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), reached an altitude of about 20 km and “vanished,” an apparent sign of launch failure, said the JCS, which estimates that the last missile was also an SRBM and traveled about 760 km, reaching an altitude of 60 km before falling into the Sea of Japan.
South Korea, the United States and Japan condemned Wednesday’s tests.
In a statement issued by the South Korean presidential office after President Yoon Suk-yeol held over a meeting of the National Security Council, Seoul “strongly” condemned the test, which it described as a “grave provocation that violates UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and threatens international peace.”
“President Yoon ordered the thorough implementation of international sanctions against North Korea, including UN Security Council resolutions, based on coordination between South Korea and the United States, and in close cooperation with relevant nations and the international community,” it added, according to local news agency Yonhap.
The president also “ordered that the readiness posture be maintained at all times to ensure no gap in the security of the Republic of Korea and the implementation of practical measures for the activation of extended deterrence and strengthening of the South Korea-US combined defense posture,” the statement said.
In a telephone conversation after the test, the heads of diplomacy of South Korea and the US, Park Jin and Antony Blinken respectively, condemned the launches, which they claimed would only lead to greater isolation of the North.
They also agreed to coordinate to push for a new UN sanctions resolution.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government’s top spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno said that such provocative actions by North Korea shortly after summits between the US, Japan and South Korea, and the Quad countries could not be allowed.
The missile tests, now totaling 17 since the beginning of the year, come a day after United States President Joe Biden concluded an Asia tour in Tokyo, which also took him to South Korea and was focused on addressing Pyongyang’s weapons challenges, among other issues.
The South Korean military is analyzing the possibility that the ICBM tested by North Korea is the newly developed Hwasong-17 – the world’s biggest road-mobile ballistic missile system – which would make it the first successful test of this missile.
Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have been warning for weeks that Pyongyang was preparing to launch an ICBM.
In response to the launches, Seoul and Washington respectively fired a Hyunmoo-II ballistic missile and a Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile into the Sea of Japan, to highlight their “rapid strike capabilities,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
On Tuesday, the South Korean Air Force also carried out maneuvers, involving the deployment of some 30 fully armed F-15K fighter jets, in an attempt to deter provocations by the North. EFE