North Korea launches intercontinental ballistic missile ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in a show of military force on Thursday, hours before the leaders of South Korea and Japan were due to meet at a Tokyo summit expected to be overshadowed by North Korea’s nuclear threats. Will be.

The launch, the North’s first ICBM test in a month and third weapons test this week, also comes as South Korean and US troops. Continue joint military exercises That Pyongyang considers it a practice attack.

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

North Korean missile launch
File footage of North Korea’s missile test is shown at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea on March 16, 2023. People sit near a television with news broadcast.

Anthony Wallis/AFP via Getty Images

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

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile likely landed in water outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone after about an hour of flight. The landing site is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the western island of Oshimashima, close to where other North Korean ICBMs have crashed after test flights in recent months.

Thursday came just hours before South Korean President Yoon Seok-yul flew to Tokyo for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida aimed at strengthening trilateral security cooperation with the United States to counter threats from North Korea. To stabilize.

After conducting a record number of missile tests last year, North Korea has ramped up its testing activities this year, including Beginning February 18 of its Hwasong-15 ICBM designed to strike the US mainland. Following the launch of the ICBM, North Korea said the test was aimed at bolstering its “lethal” nuclear strike capability against its rivals.

The North’s ongoing offensive weapons tests are widely expected. Leader Kim Jong-un last week ordered his military to be ready to repel “war-preparation maneuvers” by his country’s rivals, citing ongoing large-scale drills between the United States and South Korea.

Pyongyang fired cruise missiles earlier this week. From a submarine and send short-range ballistic missiles into its territory in its eastern seaboard. Last week, North Korea also fired at least six short-range ballistic missiles from the west coast in a drill overseen by Kim Jong-un, which state media said was simulated at an unspecified South Korean airport. Defined as an attack.

The US-South Korea drills, which began on Monday and will continue until March 23, include computer simulations and live firefield exercises.

Last year, Pyongyang Tested more than 70 missiles.including nuclear-capable ones that target South Korea, Japan and the US mainland. North Korea said many of these tests were a warning about past military exercises by South Korea and the United States.

The South Korea-Japan summit was organized last week after Yoon’s government took a major step toward restoring strained bilateral ties from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial period on the Korean peninsula.

His plan – to use local funds to compensate Koreans forced into industrial slave labor under colonial rule without the support of the Japanese companies that employed them – faced fierce domestic opposition, but Yoon Reflects K’s commitment to improving relations with Japan and enhancing Seoul-Tokyo-Washington security. Cooperation

Under Kishida, Tokyo has also made a major break from its post-World War II self-defense policy, adopting a new national security strategy in December that called for a pre-emptive strike to counter growing threats from the North. Targets include acquisition of capabilities and cruise missiles. Korea, China and Russia.

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