North Korea Fires Suspected Ballistic Missile Toward Japan

( Last Thursday, North Korea once again fired a missile, this time toward the Sea of Japan.

The Yonhap news agency reported that South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean launch possibly involved an intercontinental ballistic missile fired on a “lofted” trajectory.

South Korea’s coast guard issued an alert about the launch at 2:49 pm local time and landed around 3:44 pm. However, Japan’s defense ministry said the missile’s flight time was around 71 minutes, traveling a distance of 683 miles.

The Japanese coast guard reported that the missile landed about 105 miles west of the northern city of Aomori outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delivered instructions that all information about the launch be quickly analyzed to ensure the “safety of aircraft, vessels, and other assets.” His office said it would take “all possible measures for precaution.”

Just two days after Russia invaded Ukraine, North Korea launched what was believed to be the first-stage rocket for its newer intercontinental ballistic missile, Hwasong-17, which is believed could reach anywhere within the continental United States.

A week later another test was conducted. Then on March 16, another suspected ballistic missile was launched that appeared to explode midair over Pyongyang shortly after liftoff.

Last Sunday, South Korean officials said North Korea fired four projectiles into the Yellow Sea. According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, it appeared the test was to evaluate North Korea’s new system before conducting a full-range test in the future which Kirby said would possibly be disguised as a space launch.

On January 17, North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 intermedia-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile with an estimated range of 2,796 miles, making it capable of striking the US military base in Guam.

Both the United States and South Korea have warned that North Korea may be preparing to violate UN Security Council resolutions and launch an ICBM at full range.

Thursday’s test is believed to be the 13th ballistic missile test conducted by North Korea this year.