North Korea has launched a ballistic missile
By JOEY MILLAR
North Korea launched the missile at around 3am local time (6pm GMT), sparking a furious response from Seoul.
Within minutes of North Korea’s ICBM launch, South Korea had fired its own missile launch in retaliation.
The North Korean missile was fired eastwards from the hermit state. The missile landed about 210km west of Japan’s Kyurokujima island, Tokyo said.
Japanese media reports the missile was in the air for 50 minutes – indicating a very high altitude flight path.
It travelled east for around 620 miles and to an altitude of 2,500 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan.
This late-night launch is rare, with most taking place during daylight hours.
A South Korean military official said earlier this evening: “We confirm that we have detected a North Korean ballistic missile launch. The missile is still travelling towards the direction to the East Sea, as we are monitoring right now.
“North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan to the east direction. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the US side.”
An emergency meeting of Japan’s cabinet over conference call was scheduled for 3.30am local time (6.30pm GMT). A full cabinet meeting will take place this evening.
The Pentagon said it had detected a “probable” missile launch.
Spokesman Colonel Robert Manning said: “We detected a probable missile launch from North Korea. We are in the process of assessing the situation and will provide additional details when available.”
North Korea has carried out several missile tests this evening
South Korean news agency Yonhap said: “North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile from South Pyongan Province early Wednesday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
“The missile flew eastward and the South Korean military is analyzing details with the US, it said.”
It is North Korea’s first missile launch since mid-September, when it fired a missile over Japan.
The missile launch comes just hours after US government sources warned a North Korea missile launch could take place in the “next few days”.
The missile is believed to have landed in the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone
The mouthpiece for Kim’s one-party government said: “The army and people of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will surely accelerate the final victory in the standoff with the US.
“The US is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of war by mobilising huge aggression forces while tightening the sanctions upon the DPRK.”