January 24, 2021

North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan, Pentagon Confirms

North Korea fired a missile over Japan, the Pentagon confirmed on Monday.

“We assess North Korea conducted a missile launch within the last 90 minutes,” the Pentagon said.

“We can confirm that the missile launched by North Korea flew over Japan. We are still in the process of assessing this launch. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and will provide an update as soon as possible.”

A senior U.S. official said that there had been some movement suggesting an intermediate missile was being prepped.

The South Korean military said this missile went 1,700 miles into space — lower than the 2,300 miles into space an intercontinental ballistic missile went in late July.

The missile was fired from the area of Sunan in Pyongyang shortly before 6 a.m. and flew east, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“It passed through the sky over Japan,” the JCS said.

NHK, Japan’s broadcaster, said that the missile flew over the nation’s territory. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga labeled it an “unprecedented grave threat.”

South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae convened a National Security Council (NSC) session quickly after the missile was fired.

The move came after North Korea fired three short-range missiles on Saturday — all deemed successful despite initial reports suggesting failure, according to the U.S. military.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles fired during the weekend from North Korea’s eastern coast flew about 155 miles.

U.S. and South Korean forces began annual military exercises last week, an effort that Pyongyang claimed was a rehearsal for war.

Japan’s military has been practicing deploying anti-missile batteries at three U.S. bases in Japan. The U.S. military says the drills will test the ability of Japanese and U.S. forces to work together and assess firing locations at the bases. They will also allow Japan to practice rapid deployment of its PAC-3 anti-missile system.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump claimed that the North would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if threats from the rogue regime continued.

North Korea has conducted a series of test launches to develop its missile capability and recently threatened to send missiles over western Japan and into waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had recently said that he was “pleased to see that the regime in Pyongyang has certainly demonstrated some level of restraint that we’ve not seen in the past.”

Asked to address those comments on Fox News Sunday, Tillerson said he wanted to continue a “peaceful pressure campaign.”

Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From the Guardian:

North Korea yesterday stirred up a strategic weapons storm in the Pacific by launching a new, long-range ballistic missile which overflew Japan before splashing down in the ocean.

Pyongyang’s cry for world attention shattered the limits of Western tolerance when it emerged that the Daepodong-1 rocket passed without permission through Japanese airspace.

Recognizing for the first time that it is in range of its militaristic neighbor, Tokyo responded by withdrawing financial backing from the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (Kedo), an international agreement that funds peaceful nuclear technology and energy supplies for the beleaguered Communist regime.

‘We see this as a very dangerous act,’ a senior Japanese government spokesman, Hiromu Nonaka, warned. ‘It will have a serious impact on the security of North-east Asia.’ Japan plans further diplomatic protests.

The United States secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, said the tests would be raised in talks with North Korea that resumed in New York yesterday. ‘We are concerned about it, as are the Japanese and the Russians,’ she said.

In extended Japanese television news broadcasts, commentators claimed the new missile was capable of carrying a 1,000kg nuclear, chemical or conventional warhead. Some Japanese analysts speculated that the missile’s trajectory may have been caused by a malfunction.

Japan’s defence agency said the incident would encourage the government to approve plans to develop a missile defence system with the US.

Alarm bells sounded in Moscow after reports that Russia’s early warning systems failed to spot the North Korean missile. Defence officials later claimed they had been able to track it.

Vladimir Yakovlev, the commander of Russian strategic rocketry, said North Korea had told Moscow of the launch in advance, according to Interfax news agency. ‘However, the missile inadvertently changed its path and was not observed by Russian tracking hardware,’ Mr Yakovlev was quoted as saying.

US and Japanese intelligence had been on the alert for the test of the Daepodong-1 missile, but the incursion into Japanese airspace appears to have come as a shock. They monitored the rocket’s second stage passing over Japan to land 200 miles east in the Pacific. The first stage came down south-east of Vladivostok, on the edge of Russian territorial waters.

Pyongyang’s action is alarming partly because its motives are often impenetrable. If the missile was intended to overfly Japan, it must have been designed to cause a strong reaction.

Such behaviour may appear deeply misguided for a country suffering acute hardship, with millions of its population desperately short of food. But North Korean leaders believe that its missile and nuclear potential is the only card left to play.

Pyongyang’s action may be a clumsy attempt to gain the upper hand in negotiations with the US to implement the 1994 nuclear deal that began in New York 10 days ago. But hardliners in the leadership may have gone too far in seeking to please their leader, Kim Jong-il.

Before details of the missile overflight became clear, Kedo had announced that South Korea would fund 70 per cent of a pounds 3 billion deal on supplying peaceful nuclear technology to the North. Japan, the US and the European Union are also contributors.

Observers believe the test is timed to coincide with next week’s 50th anniversary of the regime’s establishment. Mr Kim is expected to be formally named as state president by the national assembly on Saturday.

The Daepodong-1 missile is believed to have a range of 1,300 miles – twice that of the Rodong missile North Korea has exported to Iran, Iraq and Syria. There are concerns that a version with twice the range is on the drawing-board.

Last week the US expressed concern that North Korea was working on a huge underground project near the nuclear complex at Yongbyon. In the 1994 accord, Pyongyang agreed to freeze its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for civil-use nuclear technology and supplies of fuel oil. At the weekend there were indications that North Korea would allow inspection of the site.

Pyongyang complains that the US and Japan have failed to deliver what was promised.

The scare came as a fresh gap emerged in Russia’s early warning coverage. An anti-missile radar in Skrunde, Latvia, was switched off, leaving Russia with less reliable warning of possible attack.

Source: The Guardian