10/04/2022, 14.34
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North Korea fires its longest-range missile over Japan

by Guido Alberto Casanova

This is the fifth and most provocative launch in the last 10 days. While Japan warned its population to see shelter, the missile fell into the Pacific after travelling 4,500 kilometres. North Korea’s rhetoric against South Korea is increasingly harsh.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Amid fears, Japan issued a warning urging its population to seek shelter as soon as possible, after North Korea fired its latest missile, this one over northern Japan and into the Pacific Ocean east of the country.

Early reports indicate that the missile flew for about 22 minutes covering 4,500 km, the longest range by a North Korean rocket. The last one that flew over Japan was in 2017.

According to some experts, North Korea has missiles that can travel greater distances. This is the fifth and most provocative missile launch carried out by Pyongyang in the last 10 days.

Testing began on 25 September, a few days after the US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan docked in Busan, South Korea, and continued during US Vice President Kamala Harris’s visit to the country a few days later.

The frequency of the tests is remarkable even for an already exceptional year like 2022, during which North Korea conducted as many as 37 ballistic missile launches. The previous record was 25 tests in 2019.

Pyongyang's missile launches come at a very delicate time. Last week the Navies of South Korean and the United States resumed joint exercises suspended five years ago during intense diplomatic talks and meetings between Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and former South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

With the conservatives now back in power in South Korea, US-South Korean military exercises have resumed, joined by the Japanese Navy, to improve coordination and boost their defence capabilities against North Korean submarines.

In addition to missile testing, Pyongyang launched a propaganda offensive, with increasingly harsher tones against South Korea.

In one statement, President Yoon Suk-yeol administration was accused of “going completely insane about confronting a nuclear weapon state while having the ‘crumbling empire’ at its back.”

For North Korea’s Uriminzokkiri website, “The warmongers, who have frantically waged a reckless war rehearsal racket against the DPRK, are clamouring about the ‘power of the alliance’, but in fact, it is only the pitiful bravado of those who are frightened by our military might.”

The latest outbursts are part of a pattern that has made the situation in the Korean Peninsula in recent months more complex and a crisis may be around the corner.

As some intelligence services predicted, a nuclear test is an imminent and present danger, only waiting for the green light from North Korean authorities.

In addition, North Korea last month approved a new nuclear doctrine, which allows first-use strike if the regime’s security and stability are jeopardised.

Making things even worse, North Korea decided to cut off communications with the South.

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