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