Seoul/Tokyo – North Korea fired a missile on Friday that flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and Japanese officials said, further ratcheting up tensions after Pyongyang’s recent test of a powerful nuclear bomb.
The missile flew over Japan, landing in the Pacific about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) east of Hokkaido, Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in a hastily organized media conference.
“These repeated provocations on the part of North Korea are impermissible and we protest in the strongest words,” Suga said.
The United Nations Security Council will meet at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Friday on the latest North Korea missile test, diplomats said, at the request of the United States and Japan.
The missile reached an altitude of about 770 km (480 miles) and flew 3,700 km (2,300 miles), according to South Korea’s military – far enough to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
The U.S. Pacific Command says the North Korean missile fired over Japan was an intermediate range missile AND did not pose a threat to North America.
South Korea said it had fired a missile test into the sea to coincide with North Korea’s launch. The presidential Blue House has called an urgent National Security Council meeting. Japan also convened a National Security Council meeting.
The North’s launch comes a day after the North threatened to sink Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions against it for its Sept. 3 nuclear test, its most powerful by far.
The North accuses the United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, of planning to invade and regularly threatens to destroy it and its Asian allies.
China, Russia direct action
The United States called on China and Russia to take ‘’direct actions’’ to rein in North Korea after it fired a ballistic missile over Japan into the Pacific.
‘’China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labor,’’ Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
‘’China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own,’’ Tillerson added.
Australia, a strong and vocal ally of the United States, quickly condemned the launch.
“This is another dangerous, reckless, criminal act by the North Korean regime, threatening the stability of the region and the world and we condemn it, utterly,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in an interview with Sky News on Friday.
“This is a sign, I believe, of their frustration at the increased sanctions on North Korea, recently imposed by the Security Council. It’s a sign that the sanctions are working.”
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on a U.S.-drafted resolution and a new round of sanctions on Monday, banning North Korea’s textile exports and capping fuel supplies.
The US dollar fell sharply against the safe-haven yen and Swiss franc in early Asian hours in response to the launch, though losses were quickly pared in very jittery trade.
US President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile, but has also asked China to do more to rein in its neighbor. China in turn favors an international response to the problem. The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.