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North Korea has fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile off its east coast, according to Japan and South Korea. It comes less than a fortnight after the US accused Pyongyang of testing an ICBM system.
North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.
"It poses a serious threat to the Korean peninsula, the region and the international community," Moon said in a statement, adding that it was a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions.
Tests were a "breach of the suspension of intercontinental ballistic missile launches promised by Chairman Kim Jong Un to the international community," Moon added.
Japanese authorities said the missile flew for about 71 minutes to an altitude of about 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) and to a range of 1,100 kilometers from its launch site.
The test marks the first time Pyongyang has launched such a powerful weapon since 2017. The UN Security Council resolutions have banned all North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests and placed sanctions on its weapons programs
Earlier, Japan's vice minister of defense said North Korea may have fired a "new type" of ICBM toward the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula.
Japan's coast guard said the suspected missile had landed 170 kilometers off the coast of northern Japan, which is within Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Following the launch, South Korea fired off its own rockets into the Sea of Japan. "In response to North Korea's ICBM launch, our military jointly fired missiles from ground, sea, air," the South Korean joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the launch was an "unacceptable act of violence."
Kishida, who is in Brussels for the G7 summit on the war in Ukraine, said he would like to confirm cooperation regarding North Korea's suspect launch with leaders as well.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Tokyo has lodged a strong protest over the missile test.
The White House and US military also condemned the launch and called on Pyongyang to refrain from further destabilizing acts.
"This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region," White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
US President Joe Biden, who placed sanctions on North Korea in January over the country's advanced missile system, is also in Brussels to attend three summits over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Experts had previously pointed out the North's possibility of exploiting the attention on Ukraine to carry out tests, although others have said that Pyongyang ramped up testing before the war broke out.
The United States and South Korea accused Pyongyang of firing missiles that were part of a new ICBM system less than two weeks ago.
Both countries warned that the North might be preparing to test full-range ICBMs.
US officials said at least two recent tests, one conducted on February 27 and the other on March 5, involved the Hwasong-17, Pyongyang's biggest ICBM system.
A US official said that time that the purpose of the new tests was likely to "evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch."
North Korea has launched some 10 projectiles this year alone. It has also tested other weapons like a short-range multiple rocket launcher, just days ago.
The US and 10 other countries condemned the North's repeated missile tests in a statement after a closed Security Council briefing on March 8.
ab, rm/nm (AFP, Reuters)