South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday that “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile from the vicinity of Sunan, Pyongyang.”
The missile “flew over Japan and toward to the North Pacific Ocean,” they said.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK showed a government warning, known as the J-Alert, that “a missile” has passed over Hokkaido, northern Japan, and landed in the Pacific Ocean. NHK also stated: “The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris.”
The launch comes just hours after the rogue nation responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the US mainland into “ash and darkness.”
Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3 which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.
That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
Hours before the launch, President Donald Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.
“We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”
“I think that a lot of effort is being put into this,” he added.
Last week, a South Korean lawmaker briefed by his country’s intelligence service said it appeared that North Korea was moving an intercontinental ballistic missile.
2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.
Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch. It launched a missile over northern Japan on August 29.
On July 4, North Korea conducted its first test of an ICBM, which it claims could reach “anywhere in the world.”
Of the missiles tested before that, one was intermediate-range, two were medium-range, eight were either short-range or medium-range and the range of one is unknown, according to various North Korea watchers. Four fired on June 8 were believed to be surface-to-ship cruise missiles. The US detected a ballistic missile launch on Friday; the type was not immediately known.
Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined.
On Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in his country, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
“We need to develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement,” he told CNN in his first televised interview since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. “I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat. To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”