North Korea launches the Hwasong 17 ICBM that could reach the continental United States
A day after warning of more aggressive steps in response to increased military activity by the United States and its allies, North Korea on Friday fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that apparently prompted a U.S.-Japanese air base to issue a seek cover order.
The North Korean ICBM flew for more than an hour before splashing down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone – in waters about 200 kilometers west of Hokkaido prefecture in northern Japan – according to Japanese officials.
On its Facebook page, the Misawa Air Base, a joint U.S.-Japanese military facility on the northern island of Honshu, said authorities issued a seek cover order as a precautionary measure, without mentioning the North Korean missile.
In response, the United States and its ally South Korea held joint air drills that included F-35A fighter jets conducting laser-guided strikes, according to South Korea’s National Defense Ministry.
In Washington, the National Security Council condemned the launch as a “brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions [that] needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.”
South Korea’s military said the incident is a “significant provocation and serious act of threat that undermines peace and stability” in Korea and the wider region.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country lodged a “strong protest” against North Korea, which he said has “repeated its provocations with unprecedented frequency.”
“We absolutely cannot tolerate these actions,” Kishida told reporters in Thailand, where he is attending a regional summit.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile had the range to reach the U.S. mainland, adding it was capable of flying 15,000 kilometers.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the launch likely involved North Korea’s largest missile – the Hwasong-17 ICBM, which some experts have dubbed the “monster missile.”
North Korea has launched more than 70 ballistic missiles this year – by far a record – including multiple ICBMs.
The North’s latest launch occurred as many world leaders were gathered in Thailand for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the U.S. delegation at the APEC summit, convened an emergency meeting that included leaders from South Korea, Japan, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
Afterward, she said the leaders “strongly condemn[ed]” the launch, which “destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily raises tensions.”