North Korea fires 2nd missile over Japan after fresh UN sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime

People watch a TV broadcasting a news report on North Korea firing a missile that flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean, in Seoul, South Korea on 15 September 2017. Photo: Reuters

Seoul: North Korea fired its second missile over Japan in as many months, a fresh provocation that comes shortly after the United Nations approved harsher sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Japan didn’t attempt to shoot down the missile, which was launched at 6:57am on Friday and flew over the northern island of Hokkaido before landing 2,200 kilometres away in the Pacific Ocean, according to Japan’s top government spokesman. An initial assessment indicated that it was an intermediate range ballistic missile (ICBM), US Pacific Command said in a statement.

The missile fired from Pyongyang flew 3,700km and reached an altitude of 770km, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said. That distance is further than the 3,400km to Guam—the American territory that North Korea had threatened to fire missiles close to. The missile fired on 29 August over Japan travelled 2,700km and reached an altitude of 550km.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the test, saying a unified international response against North Korea was needed now more than ever. He reiterated that the isolated nation had “no bright future” if it continues on its current path. South Korea’s foreign ministry condemned the launch in a statement, and urged its northern neighbour to stop its “reckless provocation”.

Japan’s benchmark Topix index was little changed in early Tokyo trading, while the yen pared gains spurred by news of the launch. The cost of insuring five-year South Korean sovereign bonds rose the most in a week.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say this is an escalation,” James Soutter, portfolio manager at K2 Asset Management in Melbourne. “This is more of a continuance of provocation. Hence markets won’t like it, but I don’t think it’s necessarily the precursor to a sustained market pullback.”

Security Council

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on 3 September, and has launched more than a dozen missiles this year as Kim seeks the capability to hit the continental US with an atomic weapon. President Donald Trump has said all options—including military—are on the table to stop North Korea from threatening the US.

Trump was briefed on Friday’s missile launch, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. In remarks at a White House dinner on Thursday night, he didn’t mention North Korea.

The UN Security Council plans to convene on Friday in New York at 3pm local time.

Suga told reporters that the situation was similar to that when a missile was fired over Japan on 29 August, NHK reported. North Korea had called that test a “meaningful prelude” to containing the American territory of Guam, and threatened to launch more missiles over Japan into the ocean.

In July, North Korea fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles on steep trajectories into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. The regime said those launches put the entire US in its range.

South Korea’s military said it simultaneously conducted a drill in which it fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

Sink Japan

On Thursday, North Korea had threatened to sink Japan “into the sea” with a nuclear strike and turn the US into “ashes and darkness” for agreeing to the latest UN sanctions.

“These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” US secretary Rex Tillerson said in a statement. Tillerson also reiterated a call for China and Russia to take action against the rogue state, saying: “China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labour.”

China’s foreign ministry didn’t respond to faxed questions about the latest North Korea missile launch.

On Monday, the UN Security Council approved new sanctions after the US dropped key demands such as an oil embargo to win support from Russia and China, both of which can veto any proposals. The resolution seeks to limit oil imports, ban textile exports and increase inspections of ships suspected of carrying cargo in breach of sanctions.

North Korea’s first nuclear test since Trump took office was a “perfect success” and confirmed the precision and technology of the bomb, according to the Korean Central News Agency. Kim claimed that his regime could mount a hydrogen bomb onto an ICBM.

While North Korea’s ICBM threat is growing, the US military says it’s not yet imminent. Kim’s regime has yet to demonstrate that it can accurately guide a long-range missile to a target with a nuclear warhead that survives the trip, General Paul Selva, the No. 2 US military official said in a statement to Bloomberg last month.

“A full-out ICBM test could have really rattled the international community as a whole, so they decided to respond to the recent UN sanctions this way,” said Harry J. Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest in Washington. “They could have been testing improvements in engine design or the reentry vehicle.”
- livemint

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