ANKARA: North Korea said it conducted a “surprise” drill of an intercontinental ballistic missile on a lofted trajectory amid military threats from the United States and South Korea, the state-run media reported on Sunday.
The missile firing Saturday afternoon from Pyongyang International Airport proved the “sure reliability of our powerful physical nuclear deterrent,“ reported Anadolu Agency citing the official Korean Central News Agency.
The Hwasong-15 ballistic missile, which marked the first such drill by Pyongyang in three months, fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone off its northern territory, Kyodo News Agency reported, citing the Japanese government.
The “surprise” launch has triggered a spate of protests and condemnations from Tokyo, Seoul, and Washington.
Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, rejected the world condemnation, and criticised the US and South Korea for “destroying the stability of the region.”
She, in a statement, warned that Pyongyang will “take corresponding and very powerful and overwhelming counteraction” against every hostile move.
The missile, according to North Korean state media, flew 989 kilometers (614 miles) for 66.55 minutes, reaching a maximum altitude of 5,768.5 km (3,584 miles), before “accurately hitting a pre-set area” in open waters of the Sea of Japan.
It came just a day after Pyongyang denounced a US-South Korean plan to conduct tabletop exercises coming Wednesday, as well as another round of joint military exercises in March.
The missile could potentially travel over 14,000 km (8,700 miles) and reach anywhere on the US mainland if launched on a normal trajectory, Kyodo News Agency cited Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada as saying.
Kim Yo Jong, a senior official of North Korea’s ruling party, said that her country still has “no intention to stand face to face” with South Korea.
“We tell its fools that our ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) will not be aimed at Seoul.”
South Korea “had better think of the consequences to be entailed by its reckless acts,“ she warned. – Bernama