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North Korea missile 'had range to hit United States mainland', Japan says

Africanews logo Africanews 18/11/2022 AP with Euronews

The Japanese defence minister says a North Korean missile test-launched on Friday could potentially reach the entire continental United States.

Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that the suspected intercontinental ballistic missile landed inside the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone, about 200 kilometres west of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island.

The suspected intercontinental ballistic missile flew 1,000 kilometres at a maximum altitude of about 6,000 kilometres, suggesting it was likely launched on a high angle, the minister said.

Depending on the weight of a warhead to be placed on the missile, Hamada added that the weapon has a range exceeding 15,000 kilometres, "in which case it could cover the entire mainland United States".

US Vice President Kamala Harris and other Pacific Region leaders held an emergency meeting at the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday, after the missile launch.

South Korea’s presidential office said it convened an emergency security meeting to discuss the North Korean launch.

The missile that landed near Japanese territorial waters is North Korea's second such major weapons test this month that shows its determination to perfect weapons systems targeting the US mainland.

Japan's defence minister called North Korea's latest missile launch "a reckless act that threatens Japan as well as the region and the international community".

Tokyo strongly protested to North Korea via embassies in Beijing, Hamada said, adding that Japan continues to cooperate closely with the United States, South Korea and the international community.

North Korea has conducted a barrage of weapons tests in recent months in response to what it calls US hostility. Some experts say the North is able to perform such a spree of weapons tests partly because China and Russia have opposed US moves to toughen sanctions on North Korea.

Experts said the last intercontinental missile launched by North Korea on November 3 failed to fly its intended flight and fell into the ocean after a stage separation.

Before Thursday’s launch, the North’s foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, threatened to launch "fiercer" military responses to the US bolstering its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.

President Joe Biden recently held a trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Cambodia. The three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence. 

Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear arms.


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