North Korea’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test has been met with condemnation from the international community, after the rocket flew higher, further, and for longer than any other tested by the secretive regime.
It is arguably the the country’s most successful missile launch to date, reaching an altitude of about 3,000 km and landing within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
It was launched at 23:41 local time from an arms plant in Jagang province in the north of the country, according to the Pentagon.
The timing and the placement of the launch is unusual, given that North Korea has not in the past conducted tests at night, and that no missiles had been fired from Jagang province before – indicating the existance of a previously unknown launch site.
In response, the US and South Korean military conducted a live-firing exercise using surface-to-surface missiles, a US defence official said.
The launch came only hours after new sanctions were slapped on North Korea by Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “As long as North Korea continues these provocations, the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia and the whole international community must closely cooperate and apply additional pressure.”
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-In urged his country’s neighbour to the North to take the diplomatic approach.
He said: “Once again, we urge North Korea to awaken from a vain illusion such as developing a nuclear programme and missiles and instead choose a new path for a dialogue.”
Despite the immediate alarm, experts believe Pyongyang does not yet have the capability fit a nuclear warhead on to a long-range missile, and ensure it hits the target.
This is the 14th missile test conducted in the country in 2017, despite a United Nations ban.