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North Korea Fires Dangerous Missile Over Japan

 On Tuesday, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years to gain the attention of Tokyo and the U.S. It traveled an estimated 4,600 km. The longest test missile traveled by North Korea, forcing Japan to issue evacuation alerts and suspend trains. 

About the Missile 

According to the experts, the missile is believed to be Hwasong-12 IRBM, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that North Korea unveiled in 2017. "It's not a new missile," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at CNS.

However, this launch is significant due to the distance it traveled. "North Korea has a bunch of missiles that are shorter range, and that wouldn't go over Japan – but they have a small number of missiles that could make that journey," he added. 

At 7:22 a.m., North Korea launched the missile from Jagang Province, finally landing in the Pacific Ocean 22 minutes later. Flying the missile such long distances allow North Korean scientists to test it in real-world conditions.

Ankit Panda, a U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace member, told Reuters that "this allows them to expose a long-range reentry vehicle to thermal loads and atmospheric reentry stresses that are more representative of the conditions they'd endure in real-world use." 

Dangerous, Reckless, and Violent Behavior

Japanese authorities altered the citizens of northeastern regions to evacuate through the first "J-alert" since 2017. As a result, several trains were suspended in Hokkaido and Aomori regions.

In contrast, subways were discontinued in Sapporo city, the prefectural capital of Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido, until the government issued a subsequent notice about the missile.

Although video footage showed residents passing calmly, some were shaken. "I was worried it would be a big problem not only here but also nationwide," a local told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said it is "a reckless act, and I strongly condemn it." He also added that North Korea's attack was "barbaric." Furthermore, the defense minister of Japan commented that they would not rule out any possibilities to strengthen its defenses.

Similarly, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said North Korea's "reckless nuclear provocations" would meet a severe response from the South Korean military, its allies, and the international community. According to the U.S National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson, the missile attack was a "dangerous and reckless decision" that was "destabilizing" to the country.

Furthermore, it showed North Korea's "blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms."

Why Now? 

There are clashing opinions regarding the reason for North Korea's missile attack. 

Some experts believe the launch comes as a response to the military drills between South Korea, the U.S, and other allies training in Japan last week. As the three nations conducted naval exercises for the first time in 2017, there is a possibility that North Korea viewed it as an invasion rehearsal. 


On the contrary, some say North Korea is following its usual testing schedule. During the summer, when the weather is terrible, North Korea often takes breaks and restarts once fall, and early winter arrives. Therefore, now could be the "right conditions for the test," said Lewis.




Edited by Devnum Nagar

Image Source: NHK World - Japan 

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