North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan, its latest act of aggression against a neighbour and key Western ally amid an escalating war of rhetoric with the United States.
The missile launch will prove a stern test for both President Donald Trump and the UN who have so far failed to get Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
The Japanese government said the missile, which was launched from Pyongyang’s Sunan district, had passed over Hokkaido and the country’s military did not try to shoot it down.
The US military also said it had detected an intermediate-range ballistic missile, with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis saying the projectile “put millions of Japanese into duck and cover”.
Japan issued a nationwide alert that urged residents in the country’s north to take shelter, and Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters he condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia to take direct action against North Korea in response to its latest missile launch.
“China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own,” he said in a statement.
This is the second time in recent weeks that a North Korean missile has flown over Japan, putting the country on high alert and emphasising the stakes as North Korea accompanies hostile language with displays of more sophisticated military technology.
That provocative conduct has repeatedly spurred the United Nations to action but to little effect.
Leaders are gathering soon for a United Nations General Assembly meeting, the first for Donald Trump. The UN Security Council planned to convene a meeting today to discuss the latest firing.
While the White House confirmed that Mr Trump had been briefed last night, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred reporters to the State Department and the Department of Defense for a response. Earlier in the day Mr Trump told reporters that “people in this country will be very, very safe.”
The latest missile reportedly travelled 3,700 km, farther than the 2,700 km logged by the prior missile hurled over Japan and far enough to potentially strike the American territory of Guam.
North Korea has issued a series of threats against Guam, which hosts a substantial American military presence, and Korean state media called the prior test of a missile over Japan a “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam”.
In a statement, US Pacific Command said the latest missile “did not pose a threat to Guam”.
Source: The Independent UK