DPRK conducts longest-range missile test within a week
The launch follows joint military exercises by South Korea, Japan, and the United States, as well as a provocative visit by US Vice President Kamala Harris to Asian countries.
The DPRK launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, reportedly forcing Japan to issue a warning for its citizens to take cover.
Simultaneously, Japanese authorities also imposed a temporary halt to train operations in its northern parts. It was reported to be Pyongyang's first missile to follow such a trajectory since 2017.
All about the test
Tokyo said the missile’s 4,600 km range was feasibly the longest for a North Korean test flight, which are typically "lofted" higher into space to evade flying over neighboring countries.
The missile flew between 4,500 and 4,600 kilometers to a maximum altitude of about 1,000 kilometers, according to officials in Tokyo and Seoul.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea stated that it appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launched from the DPRK's Jagang Province.
The DPRK has used that province to launch several recent tests, including multiple "hypersonic" missiles.
The latest launch was Pyongyang's fifth in ten days, as the US, South Korea, and Japan flexed their military muscles; Last week, the three countries held trilateral anti-submarine exercises, which included a visit by a US aircraft carrier to South Korea for the first time since 2017.
This comes in addition to yet another provocative visit by a US official, this time by US Vice President Kamala Harris who was in Seoul on Thursday, touring the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the peninsula in an effort to highlight her country's "ironclad commitment to South Korea's defense against the North”.
On August 2, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed Tuesday in Taiwan's capital amid great tensions between the US and China over Taiwan, marking the first visit made by a US House Speaker to the Island since 1997.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada stated that Japan will not rule out any options, including counterattack capabilities, as it seeks to strengthen its defenses in the face of DPRK missile launches. South Korea also stated that it would strengthen its military and expand allied cooperation.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol condemned the test as "reckless" and promised a decisive response from his country's military, allies, and the international community.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters in Tokyo that North Korea's actions were "barbaric", and that the government would continue to gather and analyze information.
Washington rushed to denounce what it described as a "dangerous and reckless" decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan.
On his account, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson stated: "This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK’s blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms."
It is worth mentioning that Washington has approximately 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, escalating the tension in the heated region.
Under South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, the two sides have boosted joint exercises, which they claim are purely defensive.
Just before Harris arrived in Seoul, Washington sent the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to South Korea to conduct a large-scale joint naval exercise in a show of force against Pyongyang.