Monday, November 28, 2022

North Korea keeps up its missile barrage with launch of ICBM

Alarms blared from cellphones, radios and public loudspeakers and fishermen hurried back to shore in northern Japan on Thursday after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile above its eastern waters, adding to a recent barrage of provocative weapons demonstrations that officials say may culminate with a nuclear test in coming weeks.
The ICBM test, which was followed by two short-range ballistic launches into the sea, was swiftly condemned by North Korea’s neighbours and the United States, which said it is willing to take “all necessary measures” to ensure the safety of the American homeland and allies South Korea and Japan.
The Biden administration also warned of unspecified “additional costs and consequences” if North Korea goes on to detonate a nuclear test device for the first time since September 2017.
Hours after the launches, North Korea threatened to retaliate over a decision by the South Korean and U.S. militaries to extend large-scale joint aerial exercises in response to the North’s increased testing activity.
Senior North Korean military official Pak Jong Chon said the allies would regret their “irrevocable and awful mistake,” but did not specify what the North would do in response.
The launches are the latest in a series of North Korean weapons tests in recent months that have raised tensions in the region.
They came a day after the North fired more than 20 missiles, the most it has launched in a single day ever.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected that North Korea fired an ICBM from an area near its capital, Pyongyang, at about 7:40 am and then two short-range missiles an hour later from the nearby city of Kaechon that flew toward its eastern waters.
The longer-range missile appeared to be fired at a high angle, possibly to avoid entering the territory of neighbours, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,920 kilometers and travelling around 760 kilometers, according to South Korea’s military.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the launch was successful.
Japan’s military announced similar flight details.
It also said it lost track of one of the North Korean weapons, apparently the ICBM, after it “disappeared” in skies above waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. South Korea said the short-range missiles travelled about 330 kilometers, falling closer to North Korea’s eastern coast.
Choi Yong Soo, a South Korean navy captain who handles public affairs for Seoul’s Defence Ministry, didn’t answer directly when asked about the possibility of the ICBM launch being a failure, saying that it is still being analysed.
Citing anonymous military sources, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the missile possibly failed to maintain a normal flight following a stage separation.
The Japanese government initially feared North Korea fired a missile over its northern territory but later adjusted its assessment. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the alerts were based on a trajectory analysis that indicated a flyover.
The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida broadcast the “J-Alert” warnings through television, radio, mobile phones and public loudspeakers to residents of the northern prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata, instructing them to go inside strong buildings or underground.
There have been no reports of damage or injuries in the regions where the alerts were issued. Bullet train services in some areas were temporarily suspended following the missile alert before resuming shortly.
North Korean missile activity is a particular concern in Niigata, which is home to seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.
Those reactors are currently offline and Japanese authorities say no abnormalities have been detected.
On Sado island, just off Niigata’s northern coast, fishermen rushed back from sea at the sound of sirens blaring from community speaker systems. One fisherman told NTV television he no longer feels safe going out to sea. “We really have to be careful,” he said.
North Korea last flew a missile over Japan in October in what it described as a test of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, which experts say potentially would be capable of reaching Guam, a major U.S. military hub in the Pacific.

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