North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to activate its missile alert system and issue a rare warning for people to take shelter.
The latest launch comes in a record year of sanctions-busting weapons tests by North Korea, which recently revised its laws to declare itself an “irreversible” nuclear power.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres condemned the test as “clearly an escalation”, while US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decried it “in the strongest terms”.
The launch was “destabilizing to the region, and a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Biden and Kishida said in a joint statement.
Biden also reiterated the United States’ “ironclad commitment to Japan’s defense”.
The last time Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan was in 2017, at the height of a period of “fire and fury” when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded insults with then US president Donald Trump.
South Korea said the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew some 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) — possibly a new distance record for North Korean tests, which are usually conducted on a lofted trajectory to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the launch a “provocation”, and vowed a “stern response”.