Pyongyang launches first ICBM in five years
A similar test failed last week. North Korea ended its moratorium on long-range (and possibly short-range) missile testing. Analysts predict renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korea today fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) into the Sea of Japan.
The rocket, which was launched from the Sunan area in the capital Pyongyang, flew for more than 1,000 kilometres, reaching its maximum height of 6,000 kilometres.
The flight of the Hwasong 17, one of the most powerful missiles in North Korea's arsenal, lasted 71 minutes.
The last ICBM test dates back to 2017, a year before Kim Jong-un decided on a moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear testing during negotiations with the Trump administration. At the time, the rocket flew for 53 minutes and reached an altitude of 4,000 kilometres.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed the launch this morning, while Japan announced that the missile fell within its exclusive economic zone. South Korea's response was immediate firing missiles as part of an exercise.
According to experts, North Korea’s latest test (out of more than a dozen since the start of the year) is a prelude to new tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Although the final assessment of the launch is not yet known, some argue that today's test could be part of Kim's plan to develop an ICBM that reaches 15,000 kilometres.
Others think that Pyongyang is sending a message to South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol who is expected to take a tougher line towards the North.
On 16 March, a similar test, in the same area of Pyongyang, was conducted without success after the weapon exploded immediately after take-off.
While Tokyo and Seoul strongly condemned the launch, Beijing stressed the need for dialogue to pursue peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Today, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is in Brussels for a G7 summit; an extraordinary NATO summit is also taking place in the Belgian capital to tackle the war in Ukraine.