North Korea has fired a missile with a range of thousands of kilometers in a new test, according to the South Korean military. The missile was shot down near the capital Pyongyang and flew about 900 kilometers towards the Sea of Japan (Korean: East Sea), said the general staff in the South Korean capital Seoul. There the rocket obviously fell into the water.
According to the General Staff, it was a long-range ballistic missile that could also carry nuclear warheads. Such tests are forbidden in the communist-ruled, internationally largely isolated North Korea by UN resolutions. South Korea's general staff accused the neighboring country of a "serious provocation".
North Korea threatened "unprecedented" military action
UN resolutions ban North Korea from testing ballistic missiles of any range. Such rockets can be equipped with one or more nuclear warheads, depending on their design. The range of long-range or intercontinental missiles exceed 5500 kilometers. North Korea is subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons program.
The United States sharply condemned the missile test. Although it posed no immediate threat to the United States or its allies, it unnecessarily increases tensions in the region, a spokeswoman for the US government's National Security Council said.
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the rocket probably fell into the sea within the country's exclusive economic zone, according to reports from the Kyodo news agency. The area covers a 200-mile zone offshore.
North Korea launched the missile just a day after warnings were sent to the US and South Korea. The foreign ministry in Pyongyang had threatened "unprecedented" military action if the two countries held joint military maneuvers. The US and South Korean armed forces are planning joint exercises next month.
The new weapons test was the first test of a ballistic missile since early January. The conflict on the Korean peninsula has become explosive again since last year. North Korea increased the scope and pace of its missile tests. South Korea and the USA resumed their maneuvers in full.