SEOUL, Jan 31 (Asia Free Press): According to media reports, Pyongyang confirmed Monday it had launched a Hwasong-12 ballistic missile, which is thought to be its biggest missile launch since 2017.
South Korean and Japanese authorities first reported the launch of the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) on Sunday. It was the seventh test conducted by North Korea this month, and the first time a nuclear-capable missile of that size has been launched, reported Reuters.
North Korean state news agency KCNA said the missile had been launched to “verify its accuracy”. Mr Kim Jong-Un, current supreme leader of North Korea, was reportedly not present.
It was launched to “the highest angle firing system from the north-western area to the East Sea of Korea in consideration of the security of the neighbouring countries”, the agency added.
Meanwhile, a senior United States official called on North Korea to join direct talks about its nuclear and missile programmes with no preconditions.
“We believe it is completely appropriate and completely correct to start having some serious discussions,” the official said.
EARLIER, the US called on North Korea to “refrain from further destabilising acts”.
South Korea reported that the launch took place at 07:52 local time on Sunday (22:52 GMT) off North Korea’s east coast.
Japanese and South Korean officials estimated that the missile reached an altitude of 2,000km (1,240 miles) and flew for 30 minutes to a distance of 800km (500 miles).
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the recent flurry of North Korean missile tests was reminiscent of heightened tensions in 2017 when North Korea conducted multiple nuclear tests, launched its most giant missiles and drew threats of “fire and fury” from the United States.
South Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook visited his country’s Army Missile Command on Monday to check its readiness in the face of the North Korean launches, the ministry said in a statement.
“North Korea’s series of missile test-fires, including intermediate-range ballistic missiles, pose a direct and serious threat to us and a grave challenge to international peace and stability,” Suh said after being briefed. “We will maintain a full military readiness posture that can respond immediately to any situation.”
Japan’s Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters North Korea was escalating its provocation of the international community and said its “remarkable improvement” in missile technology “cannot be tolerated”.
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