North Korea launches new ballistic missile


North Korea launches new ballistic missile

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption North Korea tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in July

North Korea has fired another ballistic missile, the latest in a series of launches that have raised tensions with its neighbours and the US.

The Pentagon said it believed it was an intercontinental ballistic missile that flew for about 1,000km (620 miles) and fell into the Sea of Japan.

South Korean news agency Yonhap said that the missile was launched from Pyongsong, South Pyongan province.

North Korea's last ballistic missile test was in September.

That came days after Pyongyang had conducted its sixth – and largest – nuclear test.

The US said the latest launch happened at about 03:30 local time (18:30 GMT).

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Japanese government officials said the missile travelled for about 50 minutes but did not fly over Japan, as some have done in the past.

US President Donald Trump was briefed while the missile was still in the air, the White House has said. Afterwards he said: "We will take care of it."

South Korea's military said it had responded to the launch with a missile exercise of its own.

Condemnation of the launch was swift:

  • The Japanese government said they would "never accept North Korea's continuous provocative behaviour"
  • The EU called the launch a "further unacceptable violation" of North Korea's international obligations.

The North is thought to be focusing efforts on building long-range missiles with the potential of reaching the mainland continental US.

Pyongyang officials said the first of the longer-range missiles it tested in July could hit "any part of the world", but the US military called it an intermediate-range missile instead.

Its last nuclear test reportedly involved a miniaturised hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile, raising tensions with the US even further.

Last week, President Trump announced that the US was re-designating North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism because of its missile and nuclear programme.

The US later US imposed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang. The measures targeted North Korean shipping operations and Chinese companies that traded with Pyongyang.

Major North Korean missile tests in 2017

North Korea has carried out numerous missile tests this year. Some of these exploded shortly after launch, but others travelled for hundreds of miles before landing in the sea. Here are some of the major tests reported so far:

12 February – A medium-range ballistic missile launched from Banghyon air base near the west coast. It flew east towards the Sea of Japan for about 500km.

4 April – A medium-range ballistic missile fired from the eastern port of Sinpo into the Sea of Japan. South Korea's defence ministry said the missile flew about 60km.

4 July – Pyongyang claimed to have successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time. Officials said it reached an altitude of 2,802km and flew for 39 minutes.

29 August – North Korea fired what is thought to be its first nuclear-weapon capable ballistic missile over Japan. It was launched from near Pyongyang and reached a height of about 550km.

15 September – A ballistic missile was fired across Japan for the second time and landed in the sea off Hokkaido. It reached an altitude of about 770km and travelled 3,700km.

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