North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its capital Pyongyang that flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean, officials said Tuesday.
Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile traveled around 2,700 kilometers and reached a maximum height of 550 kilometers as it flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The launch appeared to be the first of a North Korean missile to cross over Japan, though some rockets it said were used to put satellites into space have done so. It also appeared to be the North's longest-ever missile test, but South Korean officials couldn't immediately confirm.
Each new test puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States. The North has launched at an unusually fast pace this year, and some analysts believe the North could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end of President Donald Trump's first term in early 2021.
The South Korean military said it is analyzing the launch with the United States and has strengthened its monitoring and preparation in case of further actions from North Korea.
Analysts speculate the North may have tested a new intermediate-range missile that Pyongyang recently threatened to fire toward the US territory of Guam, which hosts a major military base.
This missile landed nowhere near Guam, which is about 2,500 kilometers south of Tokyo, but the length of its flight path may have been designed for the North to show it could follow through on its threat.
Seoul says the missile was launched from Sunan, which is where Pyongyang's international airport is, opening the possibility that North Korea launched a road-mobile missile from an airport runway.
It was North Korea's 13th launch of ballistic missiles this year, said Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman of Seoul's JCS. The JCS said it was the first time North Korea fired a ballistic missile from Sunan.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team