North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Launch of 'intermediate-range ballistic missile' comes just one day after threats to Japan and the US following new sanctions

15 September 2017, 8:35am
People watch a television broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a missile that flew over Japan's northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean (Photo: the Guardian)
People watch a television broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a missile that flew over Japan's northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean (Photo: the Guardian)
North Korea has launched a ballistic missile, which has flown over Northern Japan, just a day after Pyongyang threatened to “sink” the country and turn the US “into ashes and darkness”. This has prompted strong reactions from neighbours, as well as the US.

Yoshihide Sug, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, said the projectile was launched at 6:57am local time on Friday (21:57 GMT Thursday) and flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean - 2,000km east of Cape Erimo.

It splashed down at 7:16am local time (22:16 GMT).

"Japan protests the latest launch in the strongest terms and will take appropriate and timely action at the United Nations and elsewhere, staying in close contact with the United States and South Korea," Suga said. 

The country can "never tolerate this repeated extreme provocative action".

South Korea's defence ministry said the missile travelled about 3,700km and reached a maximum altitude of 770km – which is not only higher but further than previous tests.

The ministry said the South's military conducted a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North's launch.

The South Korean and US militaries are analysing details of the launch, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

South Korea's presidential Blue House called an urgent National Security Council meeting.

The launch came one day after threats it made to sink Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness”, for supporting a UN security council resolution, which imposed fresh sanctions against the state, for its September 3 nuclear test.

Lawrence Korb, a former US assistant secretary of defence, told Al Jazeera the missile launch came as no surprise as the North was seeking to show its anger over the latest UN sanctions.

"Basically we knew they were up to something because they were moving things to where they usually launch missiles. It's very clear that this was in defiance," he said.

The Security Council voted unanimously on a US-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday, banning North Korea's textile exports and capping fuel supplies.