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North Korea test-fires long-range missile amid rising tensions

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Ballistic missile test-fired by North Korea on 2019 (Credit: KCNA)

North Korea has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the Sea of Japan, adding to a series of increasingly aggressive tests amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, according to Japanese and South Korean officials.

The missile was launched from Pyongyang’s suburbs at around 7:09 a.m. on Thursday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement. It flew for about 70 minutes before falling into the Sea of Japan, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Oshima Island, outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The missile reached an altitude of more than 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) and traveled a distance of about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) before falling into the sea, the defense ministry said.

Long-range missiles fired by North Korea are typically fired into high altitudes – essentially shooting them into space – to avoid reaching other countries. On a normal trajectory, the missile could have a range of up to 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles), putting all of the world except South America within reach.

The launch comes just before Japan and South Korea are due to hold a summit in Tokyo, where Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol will meet to discuss the strengthening of regional ties, which includes countermeasures against North Korea.

Additionally, annual military drills between the U.S. and South Korea kicked off on Monday, which prompted North Korea to issue a statement warning that the drills were raising tensions to an “extremely dangerous level.”

In October 2022, North Korea flew a missile over Japan, setting off emergency alerts in which Japanese residents were urged to take cover. A similar incident occurred in South Korea a month later.

The path of the long-range missile (Credit: Japan’s Defense Ministry)
Estimated maximum range of the ICBM (Credit: MissileMap)

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