Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters the North Korean missile was likely launched on a very high trajectory, at a steep angle that North Korea typically uses to avoid neighboring countries when testing long-range missiles.
Hamada said the missile was expected to land at sea about 550 kilometers (340 miles) east of the coast of the Korean peninsula, outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
North Korea’s long-range missile program targets continental United States Since 2017, North Korea has carried out a series of launches of ICBMs as part of its efforts to acquire nuclear-tipped weapons capable of striking major cities in the United States. Some experts say that North Korea still has some technologies to master in order to have working ICBMs.
Ahead of Wednesday’s launch, the North’s most recent long-range missile test came in April, when it launched a solid-fuel ICBM, a type of weapon experts say is harder to detect and intercept than weapons liquid fuel.
Wednesday’s launch, the North’s first weapons in about a month, came after North Korea earlier this week issued a series of statements accusing the United States of flying a military plane near Korea of the North to spy on the North.
The United States and South Korea have rejected the North’s allegations and urged it to refrain from any acts or rhetoric that aroused animosity.
In a statement on Monday evening, Kim Yo Jong, the influential sister of North Korean sister Kim Jong Un, warned the United States of « a shocking incident » by saying the US spy plane flew over the eastern exclusive economic zone of North Eight times earlier in the day. You claimed that the North launched warplanes to drive away the US aircraft.
In another fiery statement on Tuesday, Kim Yo Jong said the US military would experience « a very critical flight » if it continued its illegal aerial espionage activities. The Northern Army has separately threatened to shoot down US spy planes.
« Kim Yo-jong’s belligerent statement against US surveillance planes is part of a North Korean pattern of inflating external threats to garner domestic support and justify weapons tests, » said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at the University Ewha from Seoul. « Pyongyang also times its shows of force to disrupt what it perceives as diplomatic coordination against it, in this case, the leaders of South Korea and Japan meeting during the NATO summit. »
North Korea has made numerous similar threats about alleged US reconnaissance activities, but its latest statements came amid heightened animosity over North Korea’s barrage of missile tests earlier this year.