North Korea fires missile over Japan in unprecedented move

North Korea fires missile over Japan in unprecedented move

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North Korea has fired a missile over northern Japan in a move Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called an “unprecedented” threat to his country.

The missile, launched early on Tuesday Korean time, flew over Hokkaido island before crashing into the sea.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting in response.

North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent months but firing projectiles over Japan is rare and sharply escalates tensions.

On the two previous occasions North Korea fired rockets over Japan – in 1998 and 2009 – the North claimed they were for satellite launches, not weapons.

No effort was made by the Japanese to shoot down the missile but it issued a safety warning telling citizens in Hokkaido to take shelter in “a sturdy building or basement”.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered a show of “overwhelming” force in response to the launch. Four South Korean jets staged a live bombing drill on Tuesday.

Mr. Abe said he had spoken to US President Donald Trump and that both agreed to increase pressure on North Korea.

Mr. Abe called the launch an “outrageous act” and an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat [that] greatly damages regional peace and security”.

He said his government was doing its utmost to protect people’s lives.

North Korea’s conventional and nuclear weapons Programmes are a breach of international sanctions, so the test is being seen as a major provocation and an escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, while US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang would face “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the US.

There have also been some reports in recent months that North Korea is preparing to carry out its sixth nuclear test.

 

BBC

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