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North Korea is believed to be firing ICBMs into the sea off Japan, according to South Korean and Japanese officials

Seoul, South Korea

North Korea on Friday launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the second missile test by the Kim Jong Un regime in two days, in actions condemned as unacceptable by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The suspected ICBM was launched from the Sunan area of ​​the North Korean capital Pyongyang around 10:15 am local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Kishida said it likely fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), about 210 kilometers (130 mi) west of Japan’s island of Oshima Oshima, according to Japan’s Coast Guard. It did not fly over Japan.

“North Korea continues to carry out provocative actions with an unprecedented frequency,” Kishida told reporters Friday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.

“I want to reiterate that we cannot accept such actions,” he said.

The Japanese government will continue to collect and analyze information and provide updates to the public quickly, he said. So far, there have been no reports of damage to ships at sea, Kishida added.

According to US Air Force Colonel Greg Hignite, director of public affairs for US Forces Japan, Misawa Air Force Base issued an alert following the missile’s firing. It has now been lifted and the US military is still analyzing the flight path, he said.

The launch comes a day after Pyongyang fired a short-range ballistic missile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean peninsula and issued a stern warning to the United States of a “fiercer military counteraction” against closer defense ties with South Korea. and Japan.

It is the second suspected test launch of an ICBM this month — an earlier missile fired on Nov. 3 was found to have failed, a South Korean government source told CNN at the time.

The aggressive acceleration of weapons testing and rhetoric has sparked alarm in the region, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.

Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of International Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said North Korea “is seeking to disrupt international cooperation against it by escalating military tensions and suggests it has the ability to put American cities at risk.” by a nuclear attack.”

North Korea has conducted missile tests for 34 days this year, sometimes firing several missiles in a single day, according to a CNN count. The count includes both cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, with the latter accounting for the bulk of North Korea’s tests this year.

There are substantial differences between these two types of missiles.

A ballistic missile is launched with a rocket and travels outside the Earth’s atmosphere, soaring through space before re-entering the atmosphere and descending, propelled only by gravity to its target.

A cruise missile is powered by a jet engine, remains in the Earth’s atmosphere during its flight, and is maneuverable with flight control surfaces similar to those of an aircraft.

Ankit Panda, senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said while he wouldn’t see Friday’s supposed ICBM launch “per se as a message,” it could be seen as part of North Korea’s “process”. of developing capabilities that Kim has identified as essential to the modernization of their nuclear forces.”

The US and international observers have been warning for months that North Korea appears to be preparing for an underground nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at the nuclear test site. Such a test would be the first in five years for the hermit nation.

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