SEOUL, March 16 (Reuters) – North Korea on Thursday fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, hours before the South Korean president was due to visit Tokyo. Against the nuclear-armed North.
North Korea this week fired several ballistic missiles amid South Korea-US joint military drills, which Pyongyang condemns as hostile actions.
The missile, which was launched from Pyongyang at 7:10 a.m. (2210 GMT Wednesday), flew about 1,000 kilometers on a high-altitude trajectory, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The ICBM missile flew over 6,000 km for about 70 minutes, Japan’s defense ministry said.
It most likely made landfall about 200 km west of Oshima-Oshima Island in northern Japan’s Hokkaido, outside Japan’s exclusive economic zones, the ministry said.
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Japan has not confirmed any reports of missile damage, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said in a protest through North Korea’s embassy in Beijing.
“North Korea’s missile launch is a barbaric act that increases its provocation to the entire international community,” Matsuno said. “We will ensure close cooperation with South Korea and the United States for the complete denuclearization of North Korea at today’s Japan-South Korea summit.”
South Korea convened a National Security Council meeting and “sternly” condemned the missile launch as a serious provocation that threatens international peace.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has ordered his country’s military to carry out exercises with the US as planned, saying North Korea will pay for its “irresponsible provocations”.
South Korean and US forces on Monday began 11 days of joint exercises dubbed “Independence Shield 23” on a scale not seen since 2017 to counter growing threats from the North. North Korea has long ramped up exercises by allies in preparation for an invasion.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan would also begin a National Security Council meeting.
“Regional peace and stability is a very important issue for the countries involved,” Kishida told reporters. “We must develop closer cooperation with all allies and allies.”
Yun is traveling to Japan for his first summit with Kishida in more than a decade, part of an effort to overcome historical, political and economic conflicts in the name of better cooperation to address North Korea and other challenges.
As part of the efforts, the two US allies agreed to share real-time monitoring of North Korean missile launches and pledged to further deepen military cooperation.
Nuclear-armed North Korea last year launched an unprecedented number of missiles, including ICBMs capable of reaching the United States, while resuming preparations for a nuclear test since 2017.
North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are banned under UN Security Council resolutions, but Pyongyang says the weapons development is necessary to counter the “hostile policies” of Washington and its allies.
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Sunday that a ruling party meeting chaired by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had discussed and decided on “important practical” anti-war measures. “
Reporting by Hyunsu Yim, Josh Smith, Soo-hyang Choi and Ju-min Park in Seoul; Kantaro Komiya and Kaori Kaneko in Tokyo; Editing by Sandra Maler and Jerry Doyle
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