North Korea has test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead with a range that could hit anywhere in the continental United States, defense officials said Friday. .
The missile landed 130 miles off the coast of Japan, and the US Indo-Pacific Command said it was in close communication with Japanese and South Korean officials.
The US command immediately condemned the missile launched by Pyongyang and asked it to “refrain from further illegal and destabilizing acts.”
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Defense officials said they did not assess the missile test as an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, but said they would continue to “monitor the situation.”
“United States Commitments to the Defense of the Republic of Korea [Republic of Korea] The US and Japan remain armored,” the Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Friday morning.
North Korea has launched a series of missile tests in recent weeks as it seeks to bolster its nuclear program and position itself as a greater threat to major nations like the US.
Pyongyang’s attempts to bolster its geopolitical position coincided with a decision by China and Russia earlier this year to reject Western attempts to increase UN sanctions against North Korea to curb its nuclear development.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the launch as “totally unacceptable” and said the missile fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada estimated the missile had a potential range of more than 9,300 miles, depending on the weight of the warhead.
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“In which case it could cover the entire continental United States,” he warned.
US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the launch “unnecessarily heightens tensions” and showed North Korea prioritizes military gains over diplomacy.
“Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead opt for diplomatic engagement,” he added.
The South Korean military launched F-35 fighter jets on Friday for exercises simulating air strikes on North Korean missile launchers.
Another group of eight US and South Korean aircraft separately conducted other aerial drills off the east coast of the peninsula.
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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the exercises “demonstrated that we have strong determination to sternly deal with the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile and any other provocations and threats posed by North Korea.”
He added that allied nations have an “overwhelming ability and readiness to launch precision strikes against the enemy.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.