North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Saturday, Seoul and Tokyo said, after Pyongyang warned of a strong response to upcoming US-South Korean military drills.
Japan said North Korea “fired one ICBM-class ballistic missile” which flew for some 66 minutes before landing in the country’s exclusive economic zone, chief government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
Tokyo’s defence minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile could have had the capacity to fly 14,000 km, indicating it was capable of hitting anywhere on the mainland US.
Seoul’s military said it had detected the launch of an ICBM, which was fired on a lofted trajectory — up instead of out, typically done to avoid overflying neighbouring countries — and flew some 900km.
Military tensions have risen on the Korean peninsula after a year in which North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear state and carried out sanctions-busting weapons tests.
In response, Seoul has ramped up joint military drills and cooperation with key security ally Washington, in a bid to convince the increasingly nervous South Korean public of America’s commitment to deter nuclear-armed Pyongyang.
North Korea on Friday threatened an “unprecedentedly” strong response to upcoming US-South Korea drills, which it described as preparations for war.