N. Korea launches mis­sile over Ja­pan

New Straits Times - - World -

TOKYO: North Korea fired a mis­sile that flew over Ja­pan’s north­ern Hokkaido is­land far out into the Pa­cific Ocean yes­ter­day, South Korean and Ja­panese of­fi­cials said, deep­en­ing ten­sions after Py­ongyang’s re­cent test of its most pow­er­ful nu­clear bomb.

The mis­sile landed about 2,000km east of Hokkaido, Ja­panese Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said.

Warn­ing an­nounce­ments about the mis­sile blared around 7am in parts of north­ern Ja­pan, while many res­i­dents re­ceived alerts on their mo­bile phones or saw warn­ings on TV telling them to seek refuge.

United States Sec­re­tary of De­fence Jim Mat­tis said the launch “put mil­lions of Ja­panese into duck and cover”, al­though res­i­dents in north­ern Ja­pan ap­peared calm and went about their busi­ness as nor­mal after the sec­ond such launch in less than a month.

The mis­sile reached an al­ti­tude of about 770km and flew for about 19 min­utes over a dis­tance of about 3,700km, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s mil­i­tary — far enough to reach the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam.

The US mil­i­tary said soon after the launch it had de­tected a sin­gle in­ter­me­di­ate range bal­lis­tic mis­sile, but the mis­sile did not pose a threat to North America or the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam, which lies 3,400km from North Korea. Py­ongyang had pre­vi­ously threat­ened to launch mis­siles to­wards Guam.

“The range of this test was sig­nif­i­cant since North Korea demon­strated that it could reach Guam with this mis­sile,” the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists said in a state­ment.

How­ever, it said the ac­cu­racy of the mis­sile, still at an early stage of de­vel­op­ment, was low so it would be dif­fi­cult to de­stroy the US An­der­sen Air Force Base on Guam.

US of­fi­cials re­peated Wash­ing­ton’s “iron­clad” com­mit­ments to the de­fence of its al­lies. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son called for “new mea­sures” against North Korea and said the “con­tin­ued provo­ca­tions only deepen North Korea’s diplo­matic and eco­nomic iso­la­tion”.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in echoed that view and said di­a­logue with the North was im­pos­si­ble at this point.

He or­dered of­fi­cials to an­a­lyse and pre­pare for pos­si­ble new North Korean threats, in­clud­ing elec­tro-mag­netic pulse and bio­chem­i­cal at­tacks, a spokesman said. Reuters

AFP PIC

Peo­ple watch­ing news cov­er­age of the North Korean mis­sile launch over Ja­pan at a rail­way sta­tion in Seoul yes­ter­day.

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