North Korea has launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile toward its eastern waters, South Korea said on Friday, its second missile launch in as many days.
A day earlier, North Korea fired a ballistic missile while it warned of “fiercer military responses” to US efforts to boost its security presence in the region with its allies, saying Washington was taking a “gamble it will regret”.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected a ballistic missile launch off the North’s eastern coast on Friday morning. It later said the missile launched is likely an intercontinental ballistic missile.
Japan’s prime minister’s office also said it detected a possible ballistic missile launch by North Korea, with reports that the missile could land within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s first ICBM launch in about two weeks. Outside experts said that an ICBM launched by North Korea on 3 November failed mid-flight.
That test was believed to have involved a new type of developmental ICBM.
North Korea has two other types of ICBM — Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 and their test-launches in 2017 proved they could potentially reach parts of the US mainland.
This year North Korea has conducted a record number of such tests, which are banned by UN security council resolutions that have sanctioned the country over its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.
The North also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea recently as South Korea and the US staged exercises, some of which involved Japan.
The country had halted weapons launches for about a week before Thursday’s test, which was preceded by the North’s foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, threatened “fiercer” military responses.
Choe was referring to US president Joe Biden’s recent trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Cambodia.
In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence. Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear arms.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates