North Korea fires another missile, less than 2 weeks after nuclear bomb test

STR/ AFP/ Getty Images

North Korea conducted a new missile launch, less than two weeks after its suspected hydrogen bomb test, South Korean defense officials said, according to Yonhap News.

The missile was fired from an airfield near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang at 6:57 a.m. local time and headed eastward, South Korean military officials said.

Military officials also estimated that the missile reached an altitude of 479 miles and flew for nearly 2,300 miles, far surpassing the distance between Pyongyang and Guam, the closest US territory.

Emergency alerts in Japan were issued around 7:06 a.m. local time. NHK, Japan’s public-broadcasting outlet, cited government information that said the missile fell into the Pacific Ocean about 1,240 miles east of Hokkaido, the country’s second-largest island.

Japan did not attempt to shoot down the missile, NHK added.

An initial assessment from US Pacific Command indicated that the missile was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) added that the missile “did not pose a threat to North America.

“Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad,” PACOM’s statement read. “We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”

The White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Chief of Staff John Kelly had briefed US President Donald Trump on the launch Thursday evening.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and the country’s National Security Council were holding an emergency meeting in response to the launch.

It is not the first time a North Korean projectile has flown over Japan. Late last month, North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile that also passed over Hokkaido and traveled about 1,700 miles and reached a height of nearly 340 miles. If the initial estimates of Friday morning’s launch are accurate, they could be seen as an improvement in North Korea‚Äôs missile capabilities.

In response to the latest provocation, South Korea conducted a ballistic missile drill, firing a Hyunmoo-II missile into the East Sea.

A day before the North Korean launch, a state agency threatened to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness,” Reuters reported. The threat was a response to the latest UN Security Council resolution stepping up sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test.

Although the sanctions, which imposed a cap on crude-oil imports and banned exports of textiles, were unanimously approved by member nations, President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson downplayed its severity on North Korea. Critics have claimed that the sanctions were watered down to appease China and Russia, Pyongyang’s closest allies, and reports have emerged that North Korea may be undercutting the sanctions by smuggling goods.

“With respect to the UN Security Council resolution and the President’s view that it was a small step, I share that view,” Tillerson said during a press conference on Thursday. “We had hoped for a much stronger resolution from the Security Council.”

This is a developing story. Refresh this page for updates.

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