In a significant and potentially dangerous escalation of recent weapons tests by the Kim Jong Un government, North Korea launched a ballistic missile without warning over the country early on Tuesday morning, prompting Japan to encourage inhabitants to seek shelter.
The launch, which drew instant rebukes from Tokyo and Seoul, comes amid a wave of missile tests—five launches have taken place in the last ten days—and comes after the United States and its regional allies resumed military training.
Around 7:23 a.m., the intermediate-range missile was fired from Mupyong-ri, a location close to China’s central border with North Korea. local time, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea (JCS). Japanese authorities reported that the object fell into the Pacific Ocean at a distance of about 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from the country’s shore after traveling about 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles) over the Tohoku region of Japan’s main island of Honshu for 20 minutes at an estimated maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
In remarks to reporters at his official residence, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vehemently denounced the launch and branded North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches “outrageous.”
The nation tested 23 such missiles this year, including both ballistic and cruise missiles, with the launch on Tuesday.
Japanese authorities claim that there have been no reports of aircraft or vessels being damaged in the vicinity of the missile’s trajectory, but the unannounced missile did cause an unusual J-alert, which is a system used to notify the public to emergencies and dangers in Japan.
Alerts are broadcast during such emergencies via sirens, local radio stations, and individual smartphone users. Alerts were distributed on Tuesday at around 7:30 a.m. Japanese authorities claim that the time was observed by persons in the islands of Izu and Ogasawara, Tokyo, Hokkaido, and the prefecture of Aomori.
South Korea, US condemn missile launch
Other governments swiftly condemned the launch, with South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol calling it a “reckless” act and warning that the South Korean military and its allies will respond forcefully.
As a “destabilizing” conduct that demonstrates North Korea’s “blatant disrespect for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms,” the test was also “seriously criticized” by the White House, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
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After the launch, Paul LaCamera, the commander of US Forces Korea, and Kim Seung-kyum, the head of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), met and confirmed that the combined defensive posture will be further enhanced against any threats and provocations from North Korea.
Additionally, a statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command stated that US commitments to the defense of Japan and South Korea “remain unwavering.”
Ankit Panda, a senior scholar in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, stated that North Korea planned to keep its nuclear arsenal by conducting regular missile tests.
He added that “risk reduction” to prevent a crisis from escalating should be the current focus. “It is quite possible that the United States, South Korea, and Japan will take away a message from this missile test that North Korea is continuing to assert itself to show that it has the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to targets including the US territory of Guam,” he said.
“If such a crisis were to unfold, it would unfold under a significantly more developed North Korean nuclear capability, which, in my opinion, would significantly restrict the options that the United States and South Korea would have, potentially to retaliate or manage escalation with North Korea,” he said.
North Korea’s potential nuclear plans
The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s provocations may get worse after Tuesday’s test, experts warned CNN.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said Pyongyang is still in the midst of a cycle of provocations and tests and is probably waiting until after China’s mid-October Communist Party Congress to perform an even more important test.
As part of a long-term plan to outpace South Korea in an arms race and rift US allies, the Kim government is developing weapons including tactical nuclear bombs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
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The US Vice President Kamala Harris paid official visits to Japan and South Korea in late September and early October, while the US, Japanese, and South Korean navies were conducting joint exercises at the same time as four earlier missile launches, which took place over the course of a week.
North Korea’s nuclear tests also occur at a time when the world’s attention is still firmly fixed on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and when Beijing and Moscow appear reluctant to join the West in further denouncing Pyongyang.
Russia and China blocked a US-drafted UN Security Council resolution in May that would have tightened sanctions against North Korea for its weapons tests. The US claimed that this decision would likely encourage Pyongyang’s efforts to develop nuclear-capable missile systems.
North Korea may be preparing for a nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017, Washington and the International Atomic Energy Agency have both warned this year.
Director of the Middlebury Institute’s East Asia Nonproliferation Program Jeffrey Lewis drew a parallel between the missile tests and a prospective nuclear test.
“North Korea is going to keep conducting missile tests until the current round of modernization is done. I don’t think a nuclear (test) explosion is far behind,” he told CNN.
YOUTUBE VIDEO: Japan issues rare alert as North Korea fires missile without warning over main island
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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