N. Korea Fires 'Unidentified Ballistic Missile' Through Japanese Airspace

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N. Korea Fires 'Unidentified Ballistic Missile' Through Japanese Airspace

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SEOUL — North Korea has fired an "unidentified ballistic missile" towards Japan, a South Korean official told NBC News Monday evening.

"North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile on Tuesday morning at around 5.57 a.m. (4:57 p.m. ET Monday) from Sunan area of Pyongyang City eastward towards Japan and passed through the air space of Japan," a South Korean military official told NBC News.

South Korean and U.S. intelligence offices were analyzing details about the launch, the official added.

"The South Korea government has called for the National Security Council meeting at 7 a.m. (6 p.m ET)," a government spokesperson said in a press briefing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe told reporters that the act was a "significant threat."

"This reckless act of firing a missile over our nation is an unprecedented, serious and significant threat, one that seriously diminishes the peace and safety of the region, and as a result we have lodged a firm protest against North Korea," he said, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Abe added that he had requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

"By working together with the international community, we will seek to further strengthen pressure against North Korea," he said.

Earlier, Abe said the "ballistic missile was fired and that it flew over our country. We will immediately collect information and analyze the data and we will do our utmost to protect the public."

The Pentagon said in a statement that it could "confirm that the missile launched by North Korea flew over Japan."

"We are still in the process of assessing this launch," the Pentagon said in its statement. "North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and will provide an update as soon as possible."

A South Korean military official said the missile flew for about 1,678 miles with a maximum altitude of 342 miles and that they were analyzing further details.

A U.S. intelligence official told NBC News the context of the missile test was multi-faceted.

"North Korea has been conducting an unprecedented level of testing since early 2016 and we have not seen anything in their defiant posture to suggest this has changed," the official said.

NHK, citing government sources, reported that the projectile flew near the northern Hokkaido island towards the Pacific Ocean and that no action to shoot down the missile was taken by Japan.

State-funded South Korean broadcaster Yonhap also reported the missile launch, saying it went into the East Sea, citing the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference broadcast by NHK that one ballistic missile flew over Cape Erimo, Hokkaido, and landed in the Pacific Ocean about 733 miles east of Cape Erimo at around 6:12 a.m. local time.

"At the moment, we have not confirmed any reports of objects landing within our territory, nor have we had any reports of damage caused to planes or ships in the area," Suga said.

Suga said the missile "appears to have flown over our country" and "poses the most serious and significant threat."

Image: FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army

He added, "We cannot help but say that it threatens the peace and safety of the Asia Pacific region."

It was not immediately clear what type of missile North Korea may have fired.

Yonhap reported that North Korea had launched an apparent missile into the East Sea, citing the military.

The move follows North Korea firing what are believed to be three short-range ballistic missiles, one of which exploded after launch, according to U.S. Pacific Command.

The missiles were launched near Kittaeryong between 6:49 a.m. Seoul time (5:49 pm. Friday ET) and 12:19 p.m.

North Korea has conducted several long-range ballistic missile tests this year, including two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that have greatly heightened regional tensions.

Stella Kim reported from Seoul, South Korea, Daniella Silva reported from New York City

Euronews provides articles from NBC News as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes.