North Korea has run a test launch of what is believed to be the largest intercontinental ballistic missile ever produced by the nation, the first such test since 2017.
The launch raises fears that Kim Jong-Un is coming close to developing weapons capable of reaching US soil. Jong-Un has boasted previously that his country already possesses such capabilities, but the credibility of these claims is debated.
In response to the launch, South Korea launched missiles of its own into the Sea of Japan. Outgoing South Korean president Moon Jae-in said that the launch was in “clear violation” of UN resolutions, and posed a threat not just to neighboring countries but the international community at large. A number of nations have requested a convening of the UN security council to discuss ramifications and appropriate responses to the tests.
Reports suggest the missile tested may be a Hwasong-17, which is larger than the Hwasong-15 that was the subject of tests in 2017. Intelligence from US and South Korean officials had recently suggested that North Korea was planning to test the Hwasong-17.
Both Japanese and South Korean authorities report that the missile was fired from the Sunan area, close to Pyongyang. It travelled a distance of 670 miles, at a maximum altitude of almost 20,000 feet. The missile was reportedly fired at a close-to-vertical angle to avoid straying into Japanese waters, and landed about 90 miles off the Japanese coast.
Japanese officials were quick to criticize the unauthorized tests, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida describing them as “an outrageous, unforgivable act”.
Japanese Minister of Defense Makoto Oniki said “At a time when the world is dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea is pressing ahead with launches that unilaterally aggravate provocations against the international community, which is absolutely unforgivable”.