North Korea Conducts Longest-range Missile Test Yet Over Japan

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Laila Afifa

4 October 2022 19:27 WIB

An ATACMS, a surface-to-surface missile, is fired during a joint military training between U.S. and South Korea at an unidentified location in South Korea, June 6, 2022. South Korea's new president vowed to take a tougher stance against North Korea and early Monday may have been a glimpse of that approach. The Defense Ministry/Yonhap via REUTERS

TEMPO.CO, Tokyo - Nuclear-armed North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile farther than ever before on Tuesday, October 4, sending it soaring over Japan, for the first time in five years, and prompting a warning for residents there to take cover.

It was the first North Korean missile to follow such a trajectory since 2017, and its estimated 4,600 km (2,850 miles) range was the longest traveled by a North Korean test missile, which is usually "lofted" high into space to avoid flying over neighboring countries.

In response to the test, the U.S. and South Korean warplanes practiced bombing a target in the Yellow Sea and Japan warned its citizens to take cover and suspended some train services while the missile passed over its north before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

It was the latest in an escalating cycle of muscle flexing in the region. A U.S. aircraft carrier made a port call in South Korea for the first time since 2018 on Sept. 23, and North Korea has conducted five launches in the last 10 days.

The period has also seen joint drills by the United States, South Korea, and Japan, and a visit to the region by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who stood at the fortified border between the Koreas and accused the North of undermining security.

North Korea accuses the United States and its allies of threatening it with exercises and defense buildups.

Recent tests have drawn relatively muted responses from Washington, which is focused on the war in Ukraine as well as other domestic and foreign crises, but the U.S. military has stepped up displays of force in the region.

In the U.S. and South Korean response to the North's test on Tuesday, a South Korean air force F-15K jet dropped a pair of guided bombs on a target off its west coast, in what South Korea's military called a demonstration of precision strike capability against the source of North Korean provocations.

Japan said it took no steps to shoot the missile down but Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said it would not rule out any options, including counterattack capabilities, as it looks to strengthen its defenses in the face of repeated missile launches from North Korea.

South Korea also said it would boost its military and increase allied cooperation.

The United States condemned North Korea's "dangerous and reckless" launch.

"This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK's blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, using the initials of North Korea's official name.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held phone calls with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts during which they "strongly condemned" the test. The launch violates U.N. Security Council resolutions, which have imposed sanctions on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"We're still doing some analysis on it so we can better understand what capabilities they put in the air yesterday," White House national security spokesman John Kirby said in a Fox News interview Tuesday morning.

REUTERS

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