Kim Jong Un flexed his missile-muscles again as he defied the international community and launched yet another ballistic missile over Japan on Friday morning.
The launch is the second to fly over Japan in less than a month, with this latest missile shot directly over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The launch comes just hours after North Korea responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the U.S. mainland into “ash and darkness.”
North Korean state media has yet to reference the launch, but a commentary published in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Friday said, “No matter how strong the pressure is, it doesn’t work on us.”
Speaking after the missile was launched, the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the North’s actions “totally unacceptable,” saying that they went against “the international community’s strong, united will for a peaceful solution.”
Friday’s missile test follows the release of a statement Wednesday in which North Korean state news agency KCNA threatened the “four islands of the (Japanese) archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” referring to the ruling ideology of North Korea.
The launch was likely intended to send a message to the U.S., flying a distance equivalent to that from North Korea to Guam, the US territory that has come under threat from Pyongyang in recent weeks.
In the wake of this latest development, Tokyo and Washington called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council to take place Friday afternoon, ahead of the General Assembly next week.
The missile launched on Friday came from North Korea’s Sunan district, which is in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.
Initial US assessments suggested North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, similar to the one fired over Japan last month.
The missile traveled around 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. Guam is 3,380 kilometers (2,100 miles) from North Korea.
Friday’s missile flew the furthest of any North Korean intermediate-range missiles, though previous launches have used lofted trajectories, where missiles fly much higher over a shorter distance. By comparison, the intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea launched in July flew 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) high and traveled a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
South Korea carried out a “live fire drill” that included a missile launch, which, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for Friday’s launch.
The South Korean missile, which was launched from the country’s east coast while the North Korean missile was still in the air, was “a show of force in response to North Korea’s latest provocation,” a South Korean official told CNN.
A second missile that was fired at the same time failed and “sank into the sea off the east coast,” an official said.
Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”
The South Korean government issued a statement, saying, “North Korea’s firing of yet another ballistic missile is a clear violation of (UN Security Council) resolutions and a very serious and grave challenge to international peace and security.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the launch “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat” to international peace and security, “which demands a global response.”
N Korea's missile launch is another reckless breach of UN resolutions-a major threat to int.peace & security which demands a global response
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) September 15, 2017
In a regularly scheduled press conference on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying cited Beijing’s “resolution” on pushing for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
“China has strictly and comprehensively implemented the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Hua said, adding the country has “paid a great price and made sacrifices.”
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