Japan has urged residents to take refuge after North Korea fired a ballistic missile without warning for the first time in five years, a major and potentially dangerous escalation of recent weapons tests by the Kim Jong Un regime.
The launch drew immediate backlash from Tokyo and Seoul, and the United States resumed military exercises with its regional allies amid five missile tests in the past 10 days.
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the medium-range missile was launched at about 7:23 a.m. local time from Wu Pyong-ri, near North Korea’s central border with China.It flew about 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles) for 20 minutes The estimated maximum altitude was 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) in the Pacific Ocean, about 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) off the coast of Japan, before crashing into the Pacific, Japanese officials said.
Speaking to reporters at his official residence, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly condemned North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch, calling it “heinous”.
Tuesday’s launch was the country’s 23rd test of such missiles this year, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
According to Japanese authorities, there were no reports of damage to aircraft or ships near the missile’s trajectory, but the unannounced missile triggered One Rare J-alert, a system designed to notify the public of emergencies and threats in Japan.
In such emergencies, alerts are issued via sirens, community radio stations and personal smartphone users. On Tuesday, around 7:30 a.m. local time, an alert was issued to people in Aomori prefecture, Hokkaido and Tokyo’s Izu and Ogasawara islands, according to Japanese officials.
A tweet from Japan’s prime minister’s office urged residents to take shelter in buildings, “do not approach any suspicious objects found and contact the police or fire department immediately”.
Other governments were quick to condemn the launch, with South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol Calling it a “reckless” provocation, adding that North Korea would face a decisive response from the South Korean military and its allies.
The White House also “strongly condemned” the test, which National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson called “destabilizing” and demonstrated North Korea’s “blatant disregard for UN Security Council resolutions and international security norms.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chief of Staff Kim Seung-kyun and U.S. Forces Korea Commander Paul LaCamera held a post-launch meeting to reiterate that the joint defense posture will be further strengthened to deal with any threats and provocations. North Korea, JCS said.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command also issued a statement saying the U.S. commitment to defending Japan and South Korea “remains unwavering.”
Angie Panda, a senior fellow in the nuclear policy program at the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the regular missile tests are part of North Korea’s plan to maintain its nuclear force.
“The United States, South Korea and Japan are likely to take away a message from this missile test that North Korea continues to claim that it is capable of delivering nuclear weapons to targets including the U.S. territory of Guam,” he said, adding, “reduce the risk. “To stop the crisis from escalating should be the current priority.
“If such a crisis were to occur, it would play out with North Korea’s significantly improved nuclear capabilities, which I think would significantly limit the options for the U.S. and South Korea, possibly retaliation or managing escalation with South Korea,” he said.
Experts told CNN that Tuesday’s launch could herald a heightened provocation by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University, said: “Pyongyang is still in the middle of a provocation and testing cycle that will likely not take place until after China’s mid-October Communist Party Congress. A bigger test.” in Seoul.
“The Kim regime is developing weapons such as tactical nuclear warheads and submarine-launched ballistic missiles as part of a long-term strategy to surpass South Korea in the arms race and sow discord among U.S. allies.”
The previous four missile launches occurred within a week of late September and early October, around the same time that U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris made official visits to Japan and South Korea, while the U.S., Japanese and South Korean navies held joint exercises .
North Korea’s test also received international attention Still firmly focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — Both Moscow and Beijing appeared Reluctance to stand with the West in further condemnation of Pyongyang.
In May, Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution to tighten sanctions on North Korea for conducting weapons tests, which the U.S. said could fuel Pyongyang’s plans to develop a nuclear-capable missile system.
Both Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency have warned this year that North Korea may be preparing for a nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.
Jeffrey Lewis, director of the Middlebury Institute’s East Asia Nonproliferation Program, linked the missile test to a potential nuclear test.
“North Korea will continue to conduct missile tests until it completes this round of modernization. I don’t think the nuclear (test) explosion will be left behind,” he told CNN.