North Korea has launched a missile that flew over Japan, the Pentagon confirmed Monday.
“The missile launched by North Korea flew over Japan,” Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning said. “We are still in the process of assessing this launch.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs issued a statement that North Korea “fired an unidentified projectile” from an area near Sunan, Pyongyang, toward the sea east of the Korean Peninsula, that “flew over Japan.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile passed over the Erimo Cape of Hokkaido, and it is estimated have fallen in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,180km east of the Erimo Cape.
The launch occurred at 5:57am local time.
“We have to say that this morning’s launch by the North is the most serious and grave threat ever to us, as the missile seems to have passed through our airspace,” Suga told reporters at a news conference, according to Japan’s NHK public broadcaster. “It could endanger peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also very dangerous and problematic in terms of the traffic safety of planes and ships. The launch is an obvious violation of UN resolutions. We cannot tolerate these repeated provocations by the North. We condemn this in the strongest possible way.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke to reporters early Tuesday, after reports emerged of North Korea’s launch, saying: “We’ll immediately gather information and analyze it, and take all possible measures to ensure people’s safety,” NHK reported.
In 1998, North Korea was criticized for overflying Japan with its test of a satellite launch vehicle, but the rogue nation has not overflown Japan with any missiles since with the exception of a failed 2009 launch that landed in the Pacific.
Manning said that NORAD determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America.
“We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and we will provide an update as soon as possible,” Manning said.
A US official said US spy satellites had been observing preparations for a ballistic missile test that would most likely be an intermediate range missile that could reach Guam. The official says the assessment is ongoing.
This launch comes only days after Pyongyang fired three short-range ballistic missiles from the Kangwon province on Saturday.