North Korea fires second ballistic missile, condemns US

Soo-hyang Choi and Kantaro Komiya |

North Korea has fired another ballistic missile, Japanese and South Korean authorities say.
North Korea has fired another ballistic missile, Japanese and South Korean authorities say.

North Korea has fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that has a range to hit anywhere in the United States, South Korea and Japan say, marking its second launch in hours as Pyongyang condemned a US-led show of force as “war” moves.

The missile has the potential to travel more than 15,000km, meaning it can reach anywhere in Japan and the mainland US, Japan’s Parliamentary Vice Minister of Defence Shingo Miyake said on Monday.

South Korea’s National Security Council said it was a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), labelling the launch a destabilising act that ignored international warnings and multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

South Korea's National Security Council
South Korea’s National Security Council says the missile launch ignored international warnings. (AP PHOTO)

President Yoon Suk-yeol had ordered the upgrading of the effective operation of “nuclear deterrence” by South Korea and the US, it said in a statement.

Monday’s missile was fired from an area near the capital Pyongyang towards the sea off the North’s east coast and flew about 1000km, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s defence ministry reported the flight lasted 73 minutes, just short of the 74-minute flight by an ICBM North Korea fired in July. 

It reached a maximum altitude of more than 6000km and fell into the sea west of Hokkaido outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japan said.

Such launches underscore the North’s efforts to advance its arsenal with longer-range weapons that could potentially reach the mainland US.

The area near the international airport serving Pyongyang is where the North previously launched ICBMs and is suspected to be the location of a missile assembly facility.

The North’s latest, solid-fuel Hwasong-18 ICBMs have been launched from near Pyongyang, at a grass field that analysts said was likely reinforced with concrete for the heavy launch vehicle.

Monday’s missile launch came after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday night, flying about 570km and falling into the ocean.

The US submarine Missouri
North Korea has criticised the arrival of the USS Missouri in the South Korean port city of Busan. (AP PHOTO)

North Korea followed up that launch with a fiery statement condemning the US for orchestrating what it called a “preview of a nuclear war”, including the arrival of a nuclear-powered submarine in South Korea on Sunday.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts and stressed the importance of sharing missile warning data, the White House said.

The three allies have been working to set up a real-time missile data-sharing system but it is still “a few days” from going operational, South Korea’s defence ministry said.

On Friday, following a high-level meeting by US and South Korean officials on the use of US strategic military weapons to deter North Korea’s military threat, Washington warned any nuclear attack would lead to the end of the regime.

North Korea says it has a sovereign right to operate a ballistic missile program for self-defence and rejects a UN Security Council ban, which it says is a product of hostile US policy.

After Sunday’s launch, North Korea’s defence ministry criticised “military gangsters” in the US and South Korea for raising tensions with drills, displays of force, and nuclear war planning.

The statement by an unnamed ministry spokesman cited the arrival of the US nuclear-powered submarine Missouri in the South Korean port city of Busan on Sunday.

Visits by US nuclear submarines have increased under agreements between Seoul and Washington that have boosted deployments of US military assets.