(Update 1: Changes lede, adds missile data par 6, Seoul statements pars 8-9, Washington statements pars 12-13, changes dateline, minor edits)
Tokyo/Seoul, Nov 18 (EFE).- A suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched by North Korea on Friday landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and was strongly condemned by Tokyo, Seoul and Washington.
“North Korea launched a ballistic missile today and it is believed to have fallen into waters west of Hokkaido within our exclusive economic zone. We’ve launched a protest,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in Bangkok where he is attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, according to state broadcaster NHK.
“North Korea has been repeating actions of provocation at an unprecedented pace. I’d like to stress we cannot tolerate this.”
Shortly after 10 am, both Tokyo and Seoul detected the launch of what they suspect to be an ICBM towards the Sea of Japan, and the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff indicated in a subsequent statement that a launch was detected from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at 10.15 am.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense warned that it expected the projectile to fall about 210 kilometers west of the northern island of Hokkaido at around 11.20 am local time (02:20 GMT).
According to data from both countries, the projectile flew about 1,000 kilometers for about 69 minutes, reaching an altitude of about 6,000 km and a speed of Mach 22, or 22 times the speed of sound.
Kishida said a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) had been convened.
At South Korea’s NSC meeting, President Yoon Suk-yeol “ordered a strengthening of the South Korea-US combined defense posture, active implementation of measures to strengthen the executability of the extended deterrence against North Korea agreed between South Korea and the US, and a strengthening of security cooperation between South Korea, the US and Japan,” according to Yonhap news agency.
The government warned in a separate statement that it “has the overwhelming response capability and will to immediately punish any provocation by North Korea, and North Korea must not miscalculate.”
This comes a day after North Korea’s Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui warned of “fiercer” military action from Pyongyang if the US intensifies its military activities with allies on the peninsula, and Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan shortly after the statement release.
On Sunday, Kishida, Yoon and United States President Joe Biden agreed in Phnom Penh to work together to strengthen deterrence, with Biden reiterating Washington’s “ironclad” security commitment to the allies.
The White House condemned Friday’s ICBM test, saying it was a “brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions” and urged Pyongyang “to come to the table for serious negotiations.”
“The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement. The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies,” it added.
Friday’s firing adds to the record 30 missiles fired in early in the month by the regime in response to large-scale air maneuvers by Seoul and Washington, including another ICBM launch that apparently failed and crashed into the sea.
Tension on the peninsula is heightened amid repeated North Korean weapons tests, the allies’ military drills and the possibility that, as satellites indicate, Kim Jong-un’s regime is ready for its first test nuclear since 2017. EFE