N. Korea fires an­other mis­sile over Ja­pan

Otago Daily Times - - World -

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

The mis­sile flew over Ja­pan and landed in the Pa­cific about 2000km east of Hokkaido, Ja­panese Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said.

The mis­sile reached an al­ti­tude of about 770km and flew for about 19 min­utes over a dis­tance of about 3700km, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s mil­i­tary, far enough to reach the US Pa­cific ter­ri­tory of Guam.

On Au­gust 29, North Korea launched an in­ter­me­di­ate­range bal­lis­tic mis­sile, the Hwa­song­12, which trav­elled 2700km, also over Ja­pan.

‘‘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.

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 Air Force base on Guam.

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

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 Guam, which lies 3400km from North Korea. Py­ongyang had pre­vi­ously threat­ened to launch mis­siles to­wards 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 Jae­in echoed that view and said di­a­logue with the North was im­pos­si­ble at this point. He or­dered of­fi­cials to pre­pare for pos­si­ble new North Korean threats, such as elec­tro­mag­netic pulse and bio­chem­i­cal at­tacks.

The Krem­lin said yes­ter­day North Korea’s lat­est mis­sile test was part of a se­ries of un­ac­cept­able provo­ca­tions and that the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was united in be­liev­ing such launches should not be tak­ing place.

The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was to meet this morn­ing (NZ time) at the re­quest of the US and Ja­pan, just days af­ter its 15 mem­bers unan­i­mously stepped up sanc­tions against North Korea over its Septem­ber 3 nu­clear test.

Those sanc­tions im­posed a ban on North Korea’s tex­tile ex­ports and capped its im­ports of crude oil.

‘‘The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity needs to come to­gether and send a clear mes­sage to North Korea that it is threat­en­ing world peace with its ac­tions,’’ Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said, de­scrib­ing the launch as ‘‘un­ac­cept­able’’.

North Korea has launched dozens of mis­siles un­der young leader Kim Jong Un as it ac­cel­er­ates a weapons pro­gramme de­signed to give it the abil­ity to tar­get the US with a pow­er­ful, nu­clear­tipped mis­sile.

Last month, North Korea fired an in­ter­me­di­ate range mis­sile from a sim­i­lar area near the cap­i­tal Py­ongyang that also flew over Hokkaido into the ocean and said more would fol­low.

South Korea said it had fired a mis­sile test into the sea yes­ter­day to co­in­cide with North Korea’s launch.

Py­ongyang had threat­ened a day ear­lier to sink Ja­pan and re­duce the US to ‘‘ashes and dark­ness’’ for sup­port­ing the UN’s lat­est res­o­lu­tion and sanc­tions. — Reuters

PHOTO: REUTERS

Alert . . . A passer­by looks at a TV screen re­port­ing news about North Korea’s mis­sile launch in Tokyo yes­ter­day.

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