North Korean missile flies over Japan, escalating tensions and prompting an angry response from Tokyo – Washington Post
The launch poses a further challenge, in particular, to President Trump, who has made North Korea a favorite rhetorical target.
This missile appears to have been a Hwasong-12, an intermediate range ballistic missile technically capable of flying 3,000 miles, easily putting the U.S. territory of Guam within reach. However, the missile flew east, over Hokkaido and into the Pacific Ocean, rather than on a southward path towards Guam.
Still, the latest launches, coming after North Korea last month launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles theoretically capable of reaching the mainland United States, underscore both Kim’s defiance of the international community and his determination to press ahead with his missile program.
The White House did not immediately respond to the latest provocation.
The missile was launched at 5:58 a.m. Japanese time from a site at Sunan, north of Pyongyang. Sunan is the location of the country’s main international airport and the arrival point for outside visitors to the country.
U.S. intelligence agencies were monitoring the site and had seen signs of the impending launch hours earlier, when it spotted Hwasong-12 missile equipment being moved to the site.
The Hwasong-12, known to American agencies as the KN-17, is fired from a road-mobile launcher — usually a modified truck — making it easy to move around the country and fire at short notice.
North Korea has sent a missile over Japan once before – in 1998 and again in 2009, although Pyongyang claimed the latter was a satellite launch. An angry Japanese government issued an emergency alert warning residents in various prefectures around the country of the missile and advising them to take cover.
“We will make every possible effort to secure citizens’ lives and property,” a visibly agitated Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told reporters at his office early Tuesday morning, according to public broadcaster NHK.
His top adviser, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, told reporters shortly afterwards that “this is a critical and serious threat without precedent.”
The missile flew over Hokkaido at 6:06 a.m., traveling 733 miles to land in the Pacific Ocean east of Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo at about 6:12 a.m.
There was initial confusion over how many missiles were fired. NHK first reported that three missiles had been launched, but later clarified to say that it thought one missile had been launched and that it had broken into three parts during flight.
The broadcaster showed Patriot missiles lined up in Japan, a staunch U.S. ally, ready to shoot down any incoming missiles. However, Japan did not use any of its missile defenses, apparently because the projectiles were not heading to Japanese territory.
Abe’s government convened an emergency national security council meeting to discuss the threat.
South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff also confirmed that the missile had passed over Japan.