North Korea launches long-range missile ahead of Japan-South Korea landmark summit
Both Japanese and South Korean officials on Thursday morning confirmed the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from North Korea just hours before the leaders of the two countries are due to meet for a landmark summit.
ICBMs pose great threats because of their long-range, including mainland US. It’s the fourth missile launch from Pyongyang this past week, albeit the other three rounds were short-range. The missile flew roughly 1,000 km landing in waters west of Japan.
While South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the ICBM was launched at 22:10 GMT from Pyongyang on the east coast of North Korea, Japan’s defence ministry confirmed the missile’s type and said it flew higher than 6,000 km for around 70 minutes.
The incident arrives amid ongoing naval exercises between South Korea and the US around the Korean peninsula. North Korea sees such drills as a provocation, it has frequently reiterated.
Following Thursday’s controversial move, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered South Korea’s military to continue with the joint US exercises as planned, adding Pyongyang would pay for its “reckless provocations”.
The landmark meeting later on Thursday between Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo is expected to have North Korea’s ramped-up missile activity at the top of the agenda. The summit is likely to prompt closer security relations and military cooperation between the two countries in the face of North Korea’s aggression.
Pyongyang last launched an ICBM just weeks back, drawing strong criticism from G7 countries and triggering a UN emergency meeting.