North Korea has fired suspected ICBM, Seoul says

North Korea fired an an suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday, South Korea said on Friday. Just a day before, it had launched a smaller missile, displaying anger over US’s increasing regional presence and issuing a warning of “fiercer military responses”. 

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier said it had detected the “launch of an unidentified ballistic missile in an eastward direction”. The coastguard warned ships not to approach fallen debris in the water.

The launch was also reported by Japan’s Coast Guard. South Korea’s defence ministry said the missile appeared to be an ICBM, North Korea’s longest-range weapon. It is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as any location in the continental United States.

The North had fired a short-range ballistic missile a day earlier. Foreign Minister, Choe Son Hui, had also warned of “fiercer military responses” to US moves to boost its military presence. Choe had said that Washington was taking a “gamble it will regret”. 

A trilateral summit of the United States, South Korea and Japan undertaken on Sunday was slammed by Choe in a statement. The leaders of the three countries had criticised Pyongyang’s weapons tests and pledged greater security cooperation.

US President Joe Biden held talks with his South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to discuss ways to address the threat posed by the North’s “unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs”, the White House said.

North Korea has conducted a record number of ballistic missile tests this year, all banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions that have sanctioned the country over its missile and nuclear weapons programmes. The North has also fired hundreds of artillery shells into the sea recently as South Korea and the United States staged exercises, some of which involved Japan.

(With inputs from agencies)

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