North Korea fires intercontinental ballistic missile?

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The Japanese Prime Minister’s office said in an official statement that North Korea fired a “possible ballistic missile”.

North Korea fires possible ICBM

North Korea Missile Launch: North Korea fired what is thought to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) towards the sea off its east coast on March 24, 2021, as per militaries of South Korean and Japan. This could possibly be the first full-capability launch of an intercontinental ballistic mission by nuclear-armed North Korea since 2017. 

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately confirm whether the missile launch was an ICBM.South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff informed that they have detected the launch of an “unidentified projectile” from North Korea. They said that launch is assumed to be a long-range mission, possibly an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  The missile was allegedly fired on a “lofted” trajectory high into space. Seoul is still trying to determine how many projectiles had been fired.

Japan’s coast gaurd also did not confirm that it was an ICBM but said that it could possibly be one. They also said that the missile was expected to land inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) about 50 minutes after its launch was first reported. The Japanese Prime Minister’s office said in an official statement that North Korea fired a “possible ballistic missile”.

North Korea Missile Launch: What do we know so far?

  • A suspected North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile has landed within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
  • The missile is suspected to be a new ICBM, given that it flew at an altitude of over 6,000 km.
  • If confirmed, this could be North Korea’s 13th missile launch this year, including the one on March 16 which reportedly failed. 
  • On  March 16, North Korea reported launched a suspected missile that exploded shortly after launch over the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

North Korea Missile Launch Significance

  • Prior to the March 16 launch, North Korea had test-launched missiles on February 26 and March 4.According to US Defence Department, the tests were likely intended to test a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.
  • Both South Korea and the US have warned that North Korea may be preparing to test-fire an ICBM at full range for the first time since 2017.
  • As per US officials, two recent missile tests on February 27 and March 4 featured North Korea’s largest ICBM system- Hwasong-17.
  • A US official had said at the time that these tests are being conducted by the North to evaluate its new ICBM system before conducting an actual full-range test.

What did North Korea say on this?

North Korea did not identify the missile system used in those launches and said that they were testing components for a reconnaissance satellite system. North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un had said earlier this month that the nation will launch multiple satellites to monitor military movements by the United States and its allies.

Background

North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes. The United Nations Security Council has forbidden the nation from testing ballistic missiles. North Korea has not carried out an intercontinental ballistic missile launch or nuclear test since 2017. 

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