NORTH Korea has fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that has sufficient range to reach the US, officials say.
US Air Bases in Japan urged personnel to take cover before the missile landed just 200km off Japan’s coast.
It is the second major weapons test by North Korea this month that showed a potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on all of the US mainland.
The US quickly slammed the launch and vowed to take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of its mainland and allies South Korea and Japan.
The launch comes a day after a smaller missile launch by the North and its warning of “fiercer military responses” to the US boosting its regional security presence.
US Vice President Kamala Harris will meet leaders of Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and New Zealand on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Friday to discuss the launch, a White House official said.
Harris is in Thailand for the APEC summit, amid heightened geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine and other flashpoints such as Taiwan and the Korean peninsula.
Friday’s launch adds to a record-breaking year for North Korea’s missile programme, after it resumed testing ICBMs for the first time since 2017 and broke its self-imposed moratorium on long-range launches as denuclearisation talks stalled.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the ICBM launch from North Koreas capital region around 10.15am.
They said the weapon flew toward the Norths eastern coast across the country. Japan said the ICBM appeared to have flown on a high trajectory and landed west of Hokkaido.
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According to South Korean and Japanese estimates, the North Korean missile flew about 6,000-6,100 km at a maximum altitude of 1,000km.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters the altitude suggests the missile was launched on a high angle.
He said depending on the weight of a warhead to be placed on the missile, the weapon has a range exceeding 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), in which case it could cover the entire mainland US.
North Korea often conducts its tests on such “lofted” trajectories where the missile flies much higher into space but to a shorter distance than it would if fired on a normal trajectory.
Misawa Air base, which hosts both Japanese and US troops, briefly issued an order to seek cover, according to a post on the base’s Facebook page.
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