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North Korea Launches ICBM Ahead of Japan and South Korea Summit

AP News reported that North Korea had test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile this morning, Thursday, March 16, 2023, at 7:10 a.m. (2210 GMT on Wednesday). This comes hours before a planned summit between Japan and South Korea. This is the first such meeting between the two counties in 12 years.

Stefan Krasowski | Wikimedia Commons

Both Japanese and South Korean officials confirmed the long-range missile's launch. This is the first ICBM test in a month, but the third weapons test this week.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson has said that this launch “needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.” One of the main topics to be discussed at the summit is the escalation in North Korean aggression over the past year.

Similar statements condemning the launch have been made by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Key Points

  • The flight originated from Pyongyang’s Sunan neighborhood and lasted 70 minutes.

  • The missile flew for approximately 620 miles (1, 000 km) at high altitude before falling into waters 200km (about 124.27 mi) west of Oshima-Oshima Island, between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

  • The missile was likely the Hwasong-17 - a liquid-fuel missile North Korea has tested before.

  • No confirmed reports of damage to ships or aircraft.

  • South Korea and the United States will continue planned joint military exercises, named "Freedom Shield 23”. North Korea views these exercises as a provocation.

  • Nuclear envoys from the U.S., Korea, and Japan agreed to work on a unified international response to North Korea’s weapons activities.

  • Despite North Korean efforts to the contrary, this missile launch might strengthen the cooperation between South Korea and Japan.

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