North Korea fired an unidentified missile eastwards over Japan and into the Pacific on Friday, Seoul and Tokyo said, its latest provocation amid high tensions over its banned weapons programmes.
The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of sanctions on the country over its ballistic missile and atomic weapons programmes.
That was in response to its sixth nuclear test — by far its largest yet — earlier this month, which Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile.
The North has raised tensions in the region with its rapid progress in weapons technology under leader Kim Jong-Un, who is closely associated with the programme and regularly pictured by state media overseeing launches and visiting facilities.
Its last missile launch, a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile just over two weeks ago, also overflew Japan — its first to do so for years — sparking emergency sirens and text alerts, before coming down in the Pacific Ocean.
Friday’s missile flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan “at around 07:06 am (2206 GMT) towards the Pacific Ocean”, Japan’s J-Alert system said, with reports saying it came down around 2,000 kilometres east of Hokkaido.
“Japan can never tolerate this repeated provocative action by North Korea,” Tokyo’s top government spokesman told reporters.
The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480) miles. It landed in the Pacific Ocean, South Korea said.
The US Pacific Command said its initial assessment indicated that North Korea had fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile. There were conflicting reports from Japan on the type of missile fired, though the government stressed that analysis was ongoing.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in also held a National Security meeting following the launch, according to an official at his office.
North Korea’s last missile test, on August 29, was also fired from near the Pyongyang airport and overflew northern Japan.