North Korea Launches Intercontinental Ballistic Missile into Waters Near Japan Amidst US Threats

On Wednesday, North Korea conducted a launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which had a flight duration exceeding 70 minutes, as reported by Japan’s Defense Ministry. This event potentially signifies a renewed phase of confrontation with Washington and its allies.

The flight time of 74 minutes for this missile surpasses that of previous North Korean missile tests conducted in March and April this year. Those tests also involved intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the continental United States.

According to Japan’s Defense Ministry, the missile launched on Wednesday traveled a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and reached an altitude exceeding 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles).

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The flight duration provides an estimate of a missile’s range. Typically, North Korea conducts its missile tests on a high trajectory, causing them to descend into nearby waters. However, if fired on a flatter trajectory, as in an actual attack, the flight time demonstrates their potential distance coverage.

As per Japan’s Coast Guard, the missile was launched at 9:59 a.m. nearby time and arrived in the Ocean of Japan (otherwise called the East Ocean) at 11:15 a.m., in light of data from the Service of Safeguard.

In response to the missile launch, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol convened an emergency National Security Council meeting in Lithuania on Wednesday morning. Yoon, who is currently attending the NATO summit in Vilnius, took this action, as reported by his press office.

Following earlier threats made by Pyongyang, North Korea conducted a missile launch on Wednesday. These threats specifically targeted US military reconnaissance planes that traverse the waters in the East Sea.

According to a statement from North Korea’s state news agency KCNA, Kim Yo Jong, a senior North Korean official and sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accused a US spy plane of violating the North’s exclusive economic zone on multiple occasions during Monday.

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In the statement, Kim cautioned that if such unauthorized intrusions continue, the US forces would face severe consequences during their flights.

Amid increasing tensions due to strengthened defense cooperation between Washington and Seoul, as well as the presence of South Korean, Japanese, and US leaders at a NATO summit in Lithuania, North Korea has launched missiles and engaged in provocative rhetoric, a behavior that has become somewhat customary for Pyongyang.

During the NATO meeting, a statement was released on Tuesday urging North Korea to cease its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, both of which violate United Nations Security Council resolutions prohibiting such activities.

The statement further emphasized the importance of North Korea accepting the multiple offers of dialogue presented by concerned parties, including Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea.

However, North Korea has exhibited no indication of its willingness to engage in negotiations with either Washington or Seoul.

According to Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Kim Yo Jong’s aggressive remarks directed at US surveillance aircraft are consistent with North Korea’s tendency to exaggerate external threats as a means to garner domestic support and justify weapons testing.

North Korea Kim Jong Un
North Korea Kim Jong Un

Furthermore, Pyongyang strategically times its displays of military strength to disrupt perceived diplomatic coordination against the regime, as exemplified by the meeting between South Korea and Japan’s leaders during the NATO summit.

The rapid succession of the missile test and threats of shootdowns demonstrates North Korea’s typical modus operandi, as stated by Chun In-bum, a former lieutenant general in the South Korean Army.

Chun suggests that North Korea’s issuance of a shootdown warning is likely aimed at escalating tensions and diverting attention away from actually carrying out the action against a US surveillance plane.

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In the earlier month, countless North Koreans took part in enemies of US rallies in Pyongyang, recognizing the 73rd commemoration of the beginning of the Korean Conflict. During these rallies, the participants denounced the United States as the “Destroyer of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula” and issued warnings of nuclear war, as reported by KCNA.

In the mean time, South Korea, the US, and Japan have been leading joint and three-dimensional military activities fully intent on deflecting any possible military dangers from North Korea.

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