North Korea fires suspected ICBM, its second this month

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, the South Korean and Japanese governments said, a day after resuming weapons tests as it vowed “fiercer” military responses to the United States strengthening its alliances with South Korea and Japan.

It would be the second ICBM North Korea has fired this month and the third this year, after refraining from conducting such tests since 2017. The missiles are designed to strike the mainland United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that a ballistic missile had landed in waters west of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. He said there were no reports of damage to vessels or planes in the area.

A suspected ICBM was launched from the Soonan area in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, toward the country’s eastern waters around 10:15 a.m. (8:15 p.m. Thursday ET), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense also said it appeared to be an ICBM-class ballistic missile. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it was believed to have flown about 620 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 3,728 miles.

Both the South Korean and Japanese governments convened emergency meetings after the launch. They said they were closely monitoring the situation in coordination with the U.S., which has military bases in both countries.

North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, but it had been quiet for about a week until Thursday, when it launched a short-range ballistic missile toward its eastern waters. The launch appeared to be in protest of a trilateral summit in Cambodia on Sunday between President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kishida, who vowed a unified and coordinated response to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In a statement Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said the summit would bring a “more unpredictable phase” in the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

U.S. and South Korean officials say North Korea is also preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.