Sirens in Japan went off on Friday after North Korea fired what is believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday. The missile was fired from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport.
In what was the longest recorded flight by a North Korean missile, Friday’s launch flew a total of about 2,300 miles, reaching an altitude of 480 miles before falling into the Pacific Ocean. This indicates that the US military base on Guam at a distance of 2,100 miles from North Korea, is within striking distance. A second North Korean missile launched at the same time landed in the sea in the initial stages.
The act of aggression came one day after the North Korean government issued a statement threatening to “sink” the Japan and turn the US “into ashes and darkness”. The Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee, which oversees North Korea’s relations with the outside world, issued a statement on Thursday saying, “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of [North Korea],” the committee said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency, adding, “Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”
South Korea y responded by launching two missiles into the sea as a show of force while the North Korean missile was still in the air. Though the South Korean missile was not aimed at North Korea, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said to the media that it was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for today’s launch.
This is the most recent in a long line of aggressive actions by the rogue North Korea intended to provoke the U.S. and Japan. Just over two weeks ago, a North Korean Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile overflew Japan. On September 3, North Korea exploded a hydrogen bomb in its most recent underground nuclear test.
The U.S. and Japan called for an immediate meeting of the United Nations Security Council. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the launch was “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat” to international peace and security “which demands a global response.”
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for increased economic sanctions against North Korea.
“United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take,” Tillerson said in a press conference. “We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”
Shinzō Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, said in a press conference, “The international community needs to unite and send a clear message after North Korea’s dangerous provocation. We must let North Korea understand there is no bright future for North Korea if it continues in this way.”
Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”
“North Korea’s firing of yet another ballistic missile is a clear violation of (UN Security Council) resolutions and a very serious and grave challenge to international peace and security,” the South Korean government said in a statement.