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International outcry after North Korea’s missile launch over Japan

North Korea's missile launch over Japanese territory was condemned as "reckless" and "destabilizing" by world powers, with Washington seeking a swift UN Security Council meeting.

Seoul, 4 October 2022 (dpa/MIA) – North Korea’s missile launch over Japanese territory was condemned as “reckless” and “destabilizing” by world powers, with Washington seeking a swift UN Security Council meeting.

North Korea launched a medium-range ballistic missile that flew eastward over Japan’s archipelago on Tuesday, marking the latest in a series of tests by Pyongyang as tensions rise in the region.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch “outrageous,” while chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it was an imminent threat to the region and the global community.

US President Joe Biden spoke with Kishida, the White House said.

“The leaders jointly condemned the [North Korea’s] missile test in the strongest terms, recognizing the launch as a danger to the Japanese people, destabilizing to the region, and a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” a statement said.

It was the first time in nearly five years that a North Korean missile flew over Japan. It landed around 3,000 kilometres east of Japan in the Pacific Ocean, according to Japanese officials.

NATO criticized North Korea and called on the autocratic regime to engage in diplomacy. “I strongly condemn North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing missile tests,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted.

NATO stands in solidarity with Japan, South Korea and the alliance’s partners New Zealand and Australia, he said.

The US is urging the UN to address the missile test. The request for a Wednesday meeting of the UN Security Council is imminent, diplomats said.

Because October 5 is classified as a floating holiday at the UN, it is unclear whether the council of 15 members will actually be able to deliberate on Wednesday.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said this was the first North Korean launch of a medium-range missile in more than eight months and that it was launched from North Korea’s Jagang province, near the border with China.

It reached a distance of 4,500 kilometres and a maximum altitude of 970 kilometres, according to initial estimates.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called it a “reckless” provocation and urged measures be taken in response.

The launch triggered a public missile alert that urged residents of the island of Hokkaido and Aomori Prefecture on Honshu island to seek shelter in their homes, Kyodo reported.

The latest launch comes after North Korea tested two ballistic missiles on Saturday. UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing any kind of ballistic missile.

In response to Tuesday’s launch, South Korean armed forces dropped two precision bombs from a F-15K fighter jet over the uninhabited island of Jikdo to the west of the Korean Peninsula, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean military has been conducting joint flight drills with US F-16 fighter jets in the region, part of broader naval exercises.

But the joint military drills – including the first deployment of a US aircraft carrier to South Korea in nearly four years – are seen by some as provoking Pyongyang’s recent increase in testing.

North Korea regularly accuses the US of preparing for an attack with its military manoeuvres with South Korea – something both countries deny.

Pyongyang is also reportedly preparing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile and possibly to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.

Its parliament passed a law on state nuclear policy in early September which provides for the use of nuclear weapons, not only in the event of an attack by enemy forces, but also in the event of a threatened attack on the leadership in Pyongyang.

North Korea is subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons programme.

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