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North Korea launches ICBM ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday in a show of military might, hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan meet at a Tokyo summit anticipated by North Korea’s nuclear threat.

The launch, the North’s first ICBM test in a month and third weapon test this week, also comes as South Korea and the US military Continue joint military exercises That Pyongyang considers a drill to attack.

South Korea’s military said a North Korean ICBM flew toward the eastern waters of the Korean Peninsula after being launched from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in a statement at 7:10 a.m. The South Korean military is maintaining preparations in close coordination with the United States.

North Korean missile launch

People sit near a television showing a news broadcast with file footage of North Korea’s missile test at a train station in Seoul, South Korea, on March 16, 2023.

Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images

The Sunan neighborhood is the site of Pyongyang’s international airport and has emerged as a major test site where the North has launched most of its ICBMs in recent years, flying at high angles to avoid all neighbors’ territory.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile landed in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone after flying for about an hour. The landing site is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the western island of Oshima, near where other North Korean ICBMs have landed after test flights in recent months.

Thursday’s launch came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol flew to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aimed at repairing strained ties and strengthening a trilateral security cooperation with the United States to counter the North Korean threat.

After conducting a record number of missile tests last year, North Korea has stepped up its testing program this year, including February 18 launch Its Hwasong-15 ICBM is designed to hit the US mainland. After that ICBM launch, North Korea said the test was to bolster its “deadly” nuclear strike capability against its rivals.

The North’s ongoing offensive weapons testing is widely anticipated; Leader Kim Jong Un last week ordered his military to be ready to counter what his country’s rivals called a “frantic war preparatory move,” citing large-scale drills underway between the United States and South Korea.

Earlier this week, Pyongyang fired a cruise missile from a submarine and sent short-range ballistic missiles across its territory into its East Sea. Last week, North Korea fired at least six short-range ballistic missiles from its west coast in a drill overseen by Kim Jong Un, an event state media described as a simulated attack on an unspecified South Korean air base.

The US-South Korean drills, which began Monday and will continue until March 23, include computer simulations and live-fire field exercises.

Pyongyang last year More than 70 missiles have been tested, with nuclear capabilities targeting South Korea, Japan and the US mainland. North Korea says many of these tests are a warning about previous South Korea-US military exercises.

The South Korea-Japan summit was held last week after Yun’s government took a major step toward repairing bilateral ties strained by Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule on the Korean peninsula.

His plan – to use local funds to compensate Koreans forced into industrial slave labor during colonial rule without contributions from the Japanese companies that employed them – faced fierce domestic opposition but underpinned Yun’s determination to improve relations with Japan and enhance Seoul-Tokyo-Washington security. reflects Cooperation.

Under Kishida, Tokyo has made a major break from its post-World War II policy of self-defense, adopting a new national security strategy in December that includes goals to acquire preemptive strike capabilities and cruise missiles to counter the growing threat from the North. Korea, China and Russia.


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