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North Korea’s first intercontinental ballistic missile test in five years raises tensions

North Korea is likely to launch a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday, Japan’s Deputy Defense Minister Makoto Oniki warned, denouncing the nuclear-armed country’s activities while the world’s attention is focused on Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.

It is the first alleged ICBM launch since November 2017, when tensions between North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump were at an all-time high.

While North Korea has undertaken a flurry of ballistic missile tests in recent months, the reported launch of an ICBM on Thursday constitutes a significant step up.

According to Oniki, Japan’s missile launch on Thursday may have been a new model because it flew significantly further than the previous ICBM test-fire.

According to Oniki, the long-range missile flew for around 71 minutes and traversed over 1,100 kilometres after reaching a maximum height of about 6,000 kilometres (3,728 miles).

At around 15:44 local time, it landed approximately 150 kilometres west of Japan’s Oshima Peninsula within Japan’s exclusive economic zone (2:44 a.m. ET).

“It is completely unacceptable that, while the rest of the world is responding to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, North Korea would unilaterally escalate its provocations against the international community by carrying out this launch,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Thursday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is attending the G-7 conference in Brussels, Belgium, said Thursday that he will seek international collaboration in reaction to North Korea’s missile launch. According to Reuters, Kishida called the incident a “unacceptable act of aggression.”

South Korea’s military said early Thursday that North Korea launched a “unidentified projectile” thought to be a long-range ballistic missile, but did not clarify whether it was an ICBM.

North Korea launched a missile earlier this month that looked to detonate in mid-air over Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s military. It happened as rumours surfaced that the Korea was planning to test-fire its largest missile ever.

South Korea, Japan, and the United States have all condemned North Korea’s ballistic missile launches, which have been increasingly frequent in recent months. According to Reuters, Thursday’s launch would be Pyongyang’s 13th missile test since the beginning of the year.

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