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North Korea fires 12th long-range ballistic missile amid NATO summit attended by South Korea and Japan, had warned of shooting down alleged US surveillance flights

The intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch comes two days after North Korea accused the US of violating its airspace by conducting surveillance flights and warned that it will shoot down such flights.

North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)  off the east coast on Wednesday. The development was reported by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese military. This is the 12th such launch by the country this year and comes ahead of South Korea and Japan’s meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Lithuania.

The missile launch comes two days after North Korea accused the US of violating its airspace by conducting surveillance flights and warned that it will shoot down such flights.

Japanese media reportedly said the missile appeared to have landed a little later in the morning and flew for 74 minutes at an altitude of 6,000km and a range of 1,000 km. This could be the longest-ever flight time for a North Korean missile. It landed about 250 km west of northern Japan’s Okushiri island.

According to analysts, it could have been a second test of the solid-fuel Hwasong-18 ICBM.

The USA, South Korea and Japan condemned the development. Incidentally, the missile was launched just after a rare trilateral meeting of top military generals of the United States, Japan and South Korea in Hawaii.

White House said it would take all necessary measures to ensure its security and also the security of South Korea and Japan from such threats. “The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said in a statement.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol convened an emergency national security council meeting and vowed to use the summit to call for strong international solidarity to confront such threats. He is in Lithuania for the NATO summit. He said, “We cannot condone these provocations, and we must respond to North Korea’s reckless actions through strong responses and solidarity of the international community.”

Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held separate talks on the sidelines of the NATO summit and strongly condemned the launch as a grave violation of multiple U.N. resolutions and a serious provocation that escalates tension. The Japanese PM said the missile launch by Kim Jong administration threatened peace and stability in the region and beyond, and required closer cooperation between the two neighbours and with the United States.

North Korean ruler Kim Jong UN’s sister Kim Yo Jong said the country will respond to threats of military activity in its economic zone again.

According to state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim Yo Jong said, “In case of repeated illegal intrusion, the US forces will experience a very critical flight.” The country also reportedly condemned Washington’s plan to deploy a nuclear missile submarine near the Korean peninsula.

“There is no guarantee that such a shocking accident as the downing of the U.S. Air Force strategic reconnaissance plane will not happen in the East Sea of Korea,” KCNA quoted a state spokesperson.

The missile launch is one of many recent military drills being conducted by North Korea in a show of strength to the US and the Republic of Korea. On 15th June, North Korea test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast amid the 5th round of US and South Korea joint military exercises near the Korean border.

On 13th April, an alert was issued in Japan following a missile launch by North Korea. “Evacuate immediately” messages echoed and sirens echoed across Hokkaido. However, the missile did not land near the island and the alert was withdrawn.

So far, more than 25 missiles have been fired by the country. North Korea test-fired its first-ever solid-fuel ICBM in April this year. Although most of the North Korean missiles have landed in the sea around Japan, analysts believe the country possesses missiles that can reach the USA. It is also believed that the country has developed nuclear warheads that can fit on its missiles.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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