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North Korea Launches ICBM, Raising Tensions and Safety Concerns in Japan

North Korea has once again defied international sanctions and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Saturday, Feb 18. The missile was reported to have flown for sixty-six minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan. The launch of the missile has been seen as a significant escalation of tensions in the region, and it is a clear message from Pyongyang that it is prepared to continue its weapons programs in the face of increasing international pressure.

The ICBM, which is the first missile to be launched since New Year's Day, flew for an estimated distance of 900 km, reaching an altitude of 50km before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) west of Hokkaido. The EEZ is a 200-nautical mile area off the coast of Japan where the country has jurisdiction. Although the missile did not cause any damage or injuries, the launch has become a major provocation within the international community.

The launch came after North Korea's recent military parade which Kim Jong-un attended. The parade showcased more than a dozen ICBMs, including what appeared to be a new model of the submarine-launched ballistic missile. The appearance of this new missile was a clear signal of the country's military capabilities. The parade display was the largest ever by North Korea, and it demonstrated its continued defiance of UN sanctions aimed at preventing the country from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The Japanese government has called the launch an "absolutely unforgivable" threat to the peace and stability of the region. The South Korean military has also expressed concern over the launch, noting that it has the potential to further escalate tensions in the region.

There are concerns over the safety of Japan and its citizens after the launch of the ICBM. The country has been subjected to multiple missile launches by North Korea over the past few years. In 2017, North Korea launched two missiles over Japan, and in 2019, it fired several short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan. The Japanese government has responded to the latest launch by strengthening its defense capabilities and working closely with the US and South Korea to monitor the situation.

The launch of the ICBM has added to the already tense situation in the region, with North Korea threatening to retaliate against any military drills between South Korea and the US. The annual springtime exercises, which are scheduled to start next month, are designed to help fend off North Korea's increasing nuclear threats. Pyongyang has long insisted that the drills are in preparation to invade North Korea, a claim that the US and South Korea have denied.


The international community has condemned the launch as there are safety concerns over Japan and its citizens, and the ICBM launch raises the potential of North Korea's missile capabilities to be able to target Japan or other countries in the region. The situation is further complicated by North Korea's threats of retaliation against the military drills between South Korea and the United States. The world now waits to see how the situation will develop and whether North Korea will engage in dialogue with the international community to ease tensions in the region.

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