NORTH Korea fired a ballistic missile early on Tuesday morning that travelled over Japan and landed in waters off the northern region of Hokkaido. The latest test has triggered swift condemnation from neighbours and their allies, and prompted calls for tougher sanctions and possible military action against Pyongyang.
According to reports, the missile was likely the same type of intermediate range of ballistic missile fired in May. The Hwasong-12 missile is the model the regime threatened to fire at the US territory of Guam earlier this month.
A South Korean military official told NBC News the missile was fired around 5.57am local time on Tuesday. The official said that the missile flew for about 2,700km, reaching a maximum altitude of 550km.
The UN Security Council is wasting no time in taking action and will meet on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the test.
The US, South Korea and Japan have all condemned the North’s action and promised a tough response.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he agreed with US President Donald Trump in telephone talks to increase pressure on North Korea.
Trump also said the US was “100 percent with Japan” and he showed a strong commitment to Tokyo’s defence, Abe told reporters.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported top US and South Korean military officers had agreed to a strong response following the test, including possible unspecified military measures.
The chairmen of both countries’ Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed on a phone call “to take response measures at the earliest possible time that can demonstrate the alliance’s strong will including military measures,” Yonhap reported, quoting the South Korean military.
Four South Korean fighter jets bombed a military firing range on Tuesday after President Moon Jae-in asked the military to demonstrate capabilities to counter North Korea.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha also held a phone discussion with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called on China to do more to rein in North Korea’s weapons programme.
“China has to ratchet up the pressure,” Turnbull told an Australian radio.
“They have condemned these missiles tests like everyone else but with unique leverage comes unique responsibility.”
China is North Korea’s main ally and primary trading partner with an estimated 80 percent of the North’s trade being between the two.
China‘s Commerce Ministry late on Friday banned North Korean individuals and enterprises from doing new business in China, in line with UN Security Council sanctions passed earlier this month.
Beijing is yet to comment on Tuesday’s missile test.
Additional reporting by Reuters