North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan landing over 1,800 km east of Hokkaido’s prefecture. The move, which is being widely described as provocative, is likely to escalate tensions between Japan, a US ally, and North Korea. Moments after the attack, US President Donald Trump and Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe were on the phone discussing the future course of action against Pyongyang.
While Trump vowed to be ‘100 per cent with Japan’, Abe said the missile launch was an “unprecedented and grave threat” to Japan’s security. The bold move comes after months of speculation about Kim Jong Un-ruled North Korea acquiring ballistic and inter-continental ballistic missile capability. People in Japan have been asked to seek shelter in sturdy basements.
The UN security council is likely to hold an emergency meeting at its headquarters in UN amid the missile launch by North Korea. UN reiterated its goal of achieving a nuclear-free world on Tuesday morning.
The missile, which is believed to be a new intermediate range Hwasong-12, was fired just before 6 am local time in Japan. Hwasong-12 is the same missile with which North Korea threatened Guam, a US territory in eastern Pacific ocean a few weeks ago. The launch comes after Pyongyang test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles from its Kangwon province on Saturday, all of which failed according to the US military.
The launch is the first since July 28, when Pyongyang test-fired its ICBM which is expected to reach a target 6,200 km away, with US mainland in its reach. The missile that landed over 2,500 km south of Japan’s capital Tokyo is being seen as a warning sign from Kim Jong Un of retaliatory strikes if Japan and US make a move.
— NK NEWS (@nknewsorg) August 29, 2017
The Pentagon also confirmed that the missile reached a maximum height of over 500 km in its trajectory only to end up in the sea in Hokkaido prefecture before breaking into three pieces. The Japanese government is yet to release any details about finding the debris of the missile, though it has confirmed that there was no loss to its ships and other assets in the region. South Korea says the missile was most likely launched from Sunan which also houses Pyongyang’s international airport, raising speculations that it was a road mobile missile launched from the airport runway.
US pledges to increase pressure
After a 40-minute phone call with the Japanese PM, US President Trump agreed to increase pressure on North Korea. Both US and South Korea are also considering imposing tougher sanctions on Pyongyang. Spokesperson for presidential Blue House in Seoul, Yoon Yong-Chan said that following the latest missile launch by North Korea, South Korean fighter jets conducted bombing drills at a firing ground.
Japan calls for UN meeting
Following the attack over its sovereign territory, Japan has called upon UN to convene an emergency meeting to strengthen pressure against North Korea. Talking to reporters, Abe said, “We must immediately hold an emergency meeting at the United Nations, and further strengthen pressure against North Korea.” He added that both Japan and US are in complete agreement over it. Abe also called for cooperation from neighbouring nations of China and Russia. Abe said, “We will cooperate among Japan, the US and South Korea. We will also reach out to China, Russia and the international community and apply strong pressure on North Korea to change their policy.”
An emergency meeting has also been convened by South Korean Prime Minister Moon Jae-In.
North Korea’s Intentions
The missile launch comes just as US and Japanese troops complete an 18-day military exercise which saw over 3,000 troops conducting joint military drills on Misawa Air Base and Hokkaido island. The launch clearly indicates that Kim Jong Un wanted to send a direct message to Japan and US against the growing troop movement in the region. The attack can also be seen as a retaliation against the recent statements given out by US President where he warned Kim Jong Un of raining “fire and fury” if North Korea continues threatening US.
Each of these new test puts the North a step closer towards its goal of creating a nuclear arsenal, especially against the US. With 13 launches alone in 2017, analysts also believe that the North could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end of Trump’s first term by 2021.
Retaliation by South Korea
Amid the growing tension in the Korean Peninsula, the missile launch over Japan is likely to worsen the present conditions. South Korea has now released details of conducting flight tests of two types of new missiles. South Korean military release footage of long range being fired from truck-mounted launchers which is likely to give the country a preemptive strike capability to neutralise threats in the region.