November 26, 2022

Seoul, South Korea CNN —

North Korea launched an ICBM on Friday, the Kim Jong Un regime’s second missile test in two days. Japan said it has the potential range to reach the US mainland.

The ICBM was launched around 10:15 a.m. local time from the Sunan area of ​​the North Korean capital Pyongyang and flew about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) east, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The US speaks of a “brazen” violation of UN resolutions.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said it likely fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), about 210 kilometers (130 miles) west of Japan’s Oshima Oshima island, according to the Japan Coast Guard. It did not fly over Japan.

“North Korea continues to carry out provocative actions at an unprecedented rate,” Kishida said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday. “I would like to emphasize once again that we cannot accept such actions.”

The Japanese government will continue to collect and analyze information and provide updates to the public without delay, he said. So far, there have been no reports of damage to ships at sea, Kishida added.

The ICBM reached an altitude of about 6,100 kilometers (3,790 miles) at Mach 22, or 22 times the speed of sound, according to the JCS, which said details were being analyzed by intelligence agencies in South Korea and the US.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said it had the potential to reach the US mainland. “The ICBM-class ballistic missile launched this time could have a range of over 15,000km when calculated based on the flight distance of this ICBM,” Hamada said in a statement. “It depends on the weight of the warhead, but in this case the US mainland would be included in the range.”

This isn’t the first time North Korea has launched an ICBM that experts and officials have estimated could theoretically reach the United States.

Friday’s missile was about 100 kilometers short in altitude and range, according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), compared to Pyongyang’s March 24 missile test, which showed the highest altitude and longest duration of any North Korean missile ever tested at the time . That rocket reached an altitude of 6,248.5 kilometers (3,905 miles) and flew a distance of 1,090 kilometers (681 miles), KCNA reported.

And in 2017, then-US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said a missile launched by North Korea that year demonstrated the ability to hit “anything in the world.”

On Friday morning, US Vice President Kamala Harris gathered on the sidelines of the APEC summit with leaders from Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada to condemn the launch in a previously unscheduled media briefing.

“I have asked this group of allies and partners to come together to join us in condemning North Korea’s launch of long-range ballistic missiles,” she said. “I also asked them to join so that we, as allies and partners, can consult on next steps. This behavior by North Korea has recently become a brazen violation of numerous UN security resolutions. It destabilizes security in the region and unnecessarily increases tensions.”

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol also ordered the “active implementation” of enhanced enhanced deterrent measures against North Korea on Friday.

The president said Seoul will strengthen its alliance with Washington and strengthen its defense stance and security cooperation with the US and Japan.

“The government will not tolerate North Korea’s provocations,” his office said in a statement. “The government has an overwhelming responsiveness and willingness to respond immediately to any North Korean provocation, so North Korea should not misjudge this.”

It added that North Korea had nothing to gain from continuous provocations and warned that sanctions against the North would only be tightened, leading to further international isolation of Pyongyang.

The JCS called the launch a “significant provocation and a serious threat” and warned the North against violating the UN Security Council resolution and urged it to stop immediately.

Misawa Air Base issued a shelter-in-place alert after the missile was fired, according to US Air Force Colonel Greg Hignite, director of public affairs for US forces in Japan. It has now been lifted and the US military is still analyzing the trajectory, he said.

US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the missile launch, and his national security team will “continue close consultations with allies and partners,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Friday.

“The door to diplomacy has not closed, but Pyongyang must immediately halt its destabilizing actions and opt for diplomatic engagement instead,” Watson said. “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and the Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”

Friday’s launch comes a day after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula and sternly warned the United States of “tougher military countermeasures” against its closer defense ties with South Korea and Japan.

It is the second suspected ICBM test launch this month — an earlier missile launched on Nov. 3 appeared to have failed, a South Korean government source told CNN at the time.

The aggressive acceleration of weapons testing and rhetoric has raised alarms in the region, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.

Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said North Korea is “trying to disrupt international cooperation against it by escalating military tensions and suggesting it’s capable of attacking American cities.” at risk of nuclear attack”.

According to a CNN tally, North Korea has conducted missile tests 34 days this year, sometimes launching multiple missiles in a single day. The tally includes both cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, with the latter making up the bulk of North Korea’s testing this year.

There are key differences between these two types of missiles.

Launched with a missile, a ballistic missile travels outside of Earth’s atmosphere, gliding in space before re-entering the atmosphere and, propelled only by gravity, descending toward its target.

A cruise missile is powered by a jet engine, stays in the earth’s atmosphere during its flight, and is manoeuvrable with control surfaces similar to those of an airplane.

Ankit Panda, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Nuclear Policy Program, said that while he didn’t see Friday’s alleged ICBM launch “as a message per se,” it could be viewed as part of North Korea’s “process.” the development of capabilities Kim has identified as essential to the modernization of her nuclear forces.”

The US and international observers have been warning for months that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the nuclear test site. Such a test would be the hermit nation’s first in five years.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the ICBM test is designed to validate parts of North Korea’s missile program, something Kim Jong Un promised earlier this year.

The recent short-range tests “are drills for front-line artillery units practicing pre-emptive nuclear strikes,” Lewis said.

He dismissed any political or negotiating message from the tests.

“I wouldn’t consider these tests primary signaling. North Korea is not interested in talks at the moment,” Lewis said.