Japanese and South Korean officials have reported that North Korea has conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test.
The long-range missile had a flight duration of nearly an hour before successfully landing outside of Japanese territorial waters on Wednesday morning. The launch occurred after Pyongyang issued a threat of retaliation for what it alleged were recent incursions over its territory by U.S. spy planes. Earlier in the week, it threatened to shoot down such aircraft.
In response to the allegations, the capital of the United States has denied them and asserted that its military patrols comply with international law. This year, North Korea has conducted multiple demonstrations of newly developed weapons, heightening security concerns on the Korean Peninsula. In 2022, the country also conducted an unprecedented number of missile launches, some of which were capable of reaching U.S. territory.
In response, the United States and South Korea have increased the number of joint military exercises they are conducting around the peninsula. Pyongyang has continued with its missile launches, most recently undertaking an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test in April, which it described as its "most powerful" missile to date. In May, it also unsuccessfully attempted to deploy a spy satellite.
The North Korean missile launched from Pyongyang on Wednesday flew east for over an hour before splashing down in the sea west of Japan at 11:15 local time (02:15 GMT), according to the Japanese Coast Guard. According to South Korea's military, the flight traversed a distance of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). Immediately following Wednesday's launch, South Korean and American officials conferred and issued a joint statement reiterating their "strengthened" joint defense.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff firmly condemned North Korea's launch of a long-range ballistic missile as a grave provocation that endangers the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the international community, as well as a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. From Lithuania, where he is attending the NATO summit, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol also convened an emergency meeting of his national security council.
Midway through June, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic miles in response to US and South Korean exercises. It conducted its last ICBM test in February.
In November 2022, Pyongyang tested a missile with a high-angle, short-range trajectory. The Japanese government stated at the time that if the missile had been launched at a lower trajectory, it could have reached the U.S. mainland. The launch on Wednesday followed days of intense rhetoric from Pyongyang threatening to end U.S. air patrols and proposing a nuclear submarine visit Korean waters.
Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accused a US surveillance aircraft of violating North Korean airspace on Monday. She stated that such flights would have "shocking" consequences if they persisted. Kim Jong-Un has repeatedly sworn to increase his country's production of nuclear warheads and development of more potent weapons despite UN sanctions.
Analysts anticipate that the latest North Korean military hardware will be on exhibit in late July, when the country celebrates Victory Day, the anniversary of the Korean War armistice.