North Korea on Sunday fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters, with US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denouncing it.
The intermediate-range Musudan ballistic missile was launched at around 7:55 AM near Banghyeon in North Pyongan province, Xinhua news agency quoted South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying.
The projectile is estimated to have travelled about 500 km and landed in waters off North Korea’s east coast.
The launch came as Trump was hosting Abe and just days before North Korea marks the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father Kim Jong II.
During a joint conference with Trump, Abe called on Pyongyang to comply fully with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Abe called the test “absolutely intolerable”.
He said Trump had assured him of US support and that his presence showed the President’s determination and commitment, The Japan Times reported.
Trump followed Abe with even fewer words: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the US stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%.”
Kim Jong Un had said in his New Year address that North Korea had reached the final stages of readiness to test an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, which would be a major step forward in its efforts to build a credible nuclear threat to the US.
South Korea’s acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said his country would punish North Korea for the missile launch.
The Presidential office convened an emergency national security council meeting chaired by top presidential security advisor Kim Kwan-jin, Yonhap news agency reported.
According to South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Seoul would continue to work with allies including the US, Japan and the European Union to ensure a thorough implementation of sanctions against Pyongyang.
According to the ministry, Seoul would make Pyongyang realise that it would “never be able to survive” without discarding all of its nuclear and missile programmes.
The ministry said it was a violation of UNSC resolutions and a serious threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
It was North Korea’s first test-launch of a ballistic missile in 2017 and also the first since US President Donald Trump took office on January 20.
The UN Security Council’s resolutions ban North Korea from testing any ballistic missile technology.
The launch was aimed at drawing attention by showing off its nuclear and missile capability and was also part of a protest against the Trump administration’s hardline stance toward Pyongyang, South Korea said.
Concerns had persisted about North Korea’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile test-launch following its fifth nuclear test in September.
Pyongyang test-fired a long-range ballistic rocket in February last year, about a month after detonating its fourth atomic bomb.
Musudan has a range of 3,000-4,000 km that can put the entire Japan and the US military base in Guam in its target range.