N. Korea fires another missile over Japan
Seoul, South Korea — South Korea’s military said North Korea fired an unidentified missile Friday from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.
It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close U.S. ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on Sept. 3.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile traveled about 2,300 miles while reaching a maximum height of 478 miles. Japan didn’t attempt to shoot down the missile.
The missile was launched from Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport.
“These continued provocations against our country by North Korea can absolutely not be tolerated,” Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s government spokesman, told reporters. “We protest strongly, conveying the strong anger of the Japanese people.”
North Korea last month used the airport to fire a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile that flew over northern Japan.
The North declared it a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam and the start of more ballistic missile launches toward the Pacific Ocean.
South Korean experts said the August launch was Pyongyang’s attempt to make missiles flying over Japan an accepted norm as it seeks to test projectiles and win more military space in the region dominated by its enemies.
President Moon Jae-in has instructed South Korean officials to pursue “stern” diplomatic and military measures to discourage North Korea from further provocations after its latest missile launch.
Earlier Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to use its leverage as North Korea’s principal supplier of oil to press the isolated nation into reconsidering its development of nuclear weapons.
The Trump administration sought an embargo on oil imports to North Korea at the U.N. Security Council this week in response to the North’s most powerful nuclear test to date. But opposition from China and Russia forced the U.N. to approve weaker measures, although it did ban textile exports, an important source of its revenue for the North.
Tillerson said it was going to be “very difficult” to get China to consent to an embargo against its neighbor, but he still urged China as a “great country and a world power” to use its leverage as the supplier of virtually all North Korea’s oil.
“That is a very powerful tool and it has been used in the past,” Tillerson said at a news conference. “We hope China will not reject that.” He spoke after talks with Britain and France on how to increase pressure on the authoritarian government of Kim Jong Un as it moves closer to having a nuclear-tipped missile that could threaten the American mainland.
China opposes North Korea’s nuclear weapons development but worries that greater economic pressure on the North could trigger a collapse. It wants the U.S. to restart long-stalled negotiations with North Korea.
The U.S., Britain and France are the other permanent members of the Security Council, the U.N.’s most powerful decision-making body.
“The Chinese have done more perhaps than we thought that they would, but there is scope for them to do much, much more, particularly in respect to oil,” British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
He cautioned against pursuing alternative efforts at engagement with Pyongyang — a possible reference to comments this week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who offered to act as a facilitator, if needed, in diplomacy. Merkel suggested that the approach taken with Iran — lifting international sanctions in exchange for it curbing nuclear activities — could be used with North Korea.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China to use its leverage to press N. Korea into reconsidering its development of nukes.