SEOUL, March 24 (UPI) — North Korea test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday that landed in the waters off Japan, South Korean and Japanese military officials said — the secretive regime’s most provocative weapons test in almost five years.
The launch effectively ended a self-imposed moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear weapons tests that North Korea had followed since 2017.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the ICBM traveled for about 670 miles and reached an altitude of over 3,850 miles. It was launched at a lofted angle from the area of Sunan international airport outside of Pyongyang, the joint chiefs said in a text message to reporters.
The South Korean military responded with a live-fire drill of missiles from the ground, sea and air in a demonstration of its “ability and willingness to respond immediately,” the joint chiefs added.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said that the missile stayed airborne for 71 minutes and splashed down 93 miles from the northernmost island of Hokkaido, inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told a parliamentary hearing that the missile’s altitude greatly exceeded that of the last ICBM that Pyongyang launched, the Hwasong-15 in November 2017, indicating it was a “new class” of missile.