Posts Tagged ‘Guam’

US bombers stage North Korea show of force

September 24, 2017

BBC News

This picture taken on September 23, 2017 and released from North Korea"s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 24 shows a meeting of the youth and students
A large mass anti-US rally was held in Pyongyang on Saturday. AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS

US bombers have flown close to North Korea’s east coast to demonstrate the military options available to defeat any threat, the Pentagon has said.

It said the flight was the farthest north of the demilitarised zone between the Koreas that any US fighter jet or bomber had flown in the 21st Century.

Tensions have risen recently over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

At the UN, North Korea’s foreign minister said US President Donald Trump was on a “suicide mission”.

Ri Yong-ho’s comments to the General Assembly mimicked Mr Trump’s remarks at the UN on Tuesday, when he called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man on a suicide mission”.

Mr Ri added that “insults” by Mr Trump – who was, he said, “mentally deranged and full of megalomania” – were an “irreversible mistake making it inevitable” that North Korean rockets would hit the US mainland.

Mr Trump, the foreign minister said, would “pay dearly” for his speech, in which he also said he would “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies.

The US president responded to the speech on Twitter by saying Mr Ri and Mr Kim “won’t be around much longer” if they continue their rhetoric.

Trump is making the US an ‘inevitable target’

Shortly before his address, the Pentagon announced that the show of force underscored “the seriousness” with which the US took North Korea’s “reckless” behaviour, calling the country’s weapons programme a “grave threat”.

“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” it said in a statement.

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, escorted by Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace, the Pentagon added.

The flight follows a week of heated rhetoric between the leaders of both countries – after Mr Trump’s comments, Mr Kim called him “mentally deranged” and “a dotard”.

Mr Ri did not comment on the Pentagon’s announcement.

Trump: ‘Rocket Man’s suicide mission’

North Korea has refused to stop its missile and nuclear tests, despite successive rounds of UN sanctions. Its leaders say nuclear capabilities are its only deterrent against an outside world seeking to destroy it.

After the North’s latest and most powerful nuclear test earlier this month, the UN Security Council approved new sanctions on the country.

But speaking at the UN, Mr Ri repeated that the restrictions would not make the country stop its nuclear development.

Media captionHow would war with North Korea unfold?

Meanwhile, a shallow magnitude 3.4 tremor was detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday morning, but experts believe it was a natural earthquake.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 0km in North Hamgyong province, home to the Punggye-ri site, South Korea’s meteorological agency said.

The US Geological Survey also said it occurred in the nuclear test area, but added that its seismologists assessed it as having a depth of 5km.

South Korea said no specific sound waves generated by artificial earthquakes were detected.

China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor. The agency had initially said it was a “suspected explosion”.

Previous tests


What did North Korea’s nuclear tests achieve?

How advanced is Pyongyang’s nuclear programme?

Analysts from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the UN-backed monitoring group, said the quake was “unlikely man-made”.

CTBTO executive secretary Lassina Zerbo tweeted that the quake had occurred “about 50km from prior tests”.

“The most probable hypothesis currently is that it is the consequence of the previous event… which could still have further repercussions,” Mr Zerbo told the AFP news agency, referring to North Korea’s massive nuclear test on 3 September.

North Korea – which has recently carried out a series of nuclear tests – has so far made no comment.

In a separate development, China moved to limit the North Korea’s oil supplyand stop buying textiles from the country, in line with the latest UN sanctions.

China is North Korea’s most important trading partner, and one of its only sources of hard currency.

The ban on textiles – Pyongyang’s second-biggest export – is expected to cost the country more than $700m (£530m) a year.

Was your T-shirt made in North Korea?

Clothing has often partially been made in North Korea but finished in China, allowing a Made in China label to be legally sewn onto the clothing, BBC World Service Asia-Pacific Editor Celia Hatton says.

China also said its restrictions on refined petroleum products would apply from 1 October, and on liquefied natural gas immediately.

Under a UN resolution, China will still be able to export a maximum of two million barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea annually, beginning next year.

North Korea is estimated to have imported 6,000 barrels of refined petroleum daily from China in 2016 – the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million in total for the entire year.




Tensions Rise as U.S. Warplanes Skirt North Korean Coast, Pyongyang’s Envoy Sharpens Threats — Strikes by North Korea are inevitable, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggests

September 24, 2017

Eight American planes prowl coastline as Pyongyang warns of ‘inevitable’ attack on U.S.

In a new escalation of hostility between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea’s foreign minister warned in a United Nations speech Saturday that a rocket attack on the U.S. mainland was “inevitable,” while U.S. warplanes flew off the east coast of North Korea in an explicit show of force.

The eight U.S. aircraft flew close to the North Korean coastline while remaining in international airspace, the Pentagon said in a statement, adding it was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea that American warplanes have flown since Pyongyang started testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in the 1990s.

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”

The moves on Saturday capped a week of hostility between the two countries and involving their top leaders. The rising animosity has spurred world leaders to call for restraint and diplomacy, but neither capital has shown an inclination to back down from the standoff.

President Donald Trump this week derided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” saying he was on a suicide mission and that the U.S. would annihilate North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. He drew a personal response from Mr. Kim, who called Mr. Trump “deranged” and warned of retaliation.

On Saturday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested at the annual General Assembly gathering that military strikes by his country are inevitable. North Korea has been steadily advancing in both its missile and nuclear-warhead programs and is considered close to possessing the capability of an intercontinental strike.

“Trump might not have been aware what is uttered from his mouth, but we will make sure that he bears consequences far beyond his words, far beyond the scope of what he can handle, even if he is ready to do so,” Mr. Ri said.

“He committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more,” he said.

U.S. officials watched as Mr. Ri spoke, but the U.S. mission to the U.N. didn’t comment on Mr. Ri’s speech.

Mr. Ri’s speech marked a setback to hopes that Pyongyang was open in the short run to attempts to de-escalate tensions in the interest of diplomacy and negotiations.

The North Korean official delivered a series of personal attacks on Mr. Trump, calling him “mentally deranged,” “evil,” and an “old gambler” who had turned the White House into “a noisy marketing place” and the U.N. into a “gangster den.”

He said it was Mr. Trump, not North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, who was on a “suicide mission” and that he should be blamed if innocent American lives were lost.

Mr. Ri also said North Korea’s nuclear program had entered into the phase of completion and the country was a “responsible nuclear state” that would only use its weapons against nations that took military actions against Pyongyang.

Mr. Trump responded via Twitter late Saturday: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

In the U.S. air operation east of North Korea, eight planes including Air Force B-1 Lancer bombers and F-15C Eagle fighter escorts flew off the east coast of North Korea, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. air mission underscored “the seriousness with which we take DPRK’s reckless behavior,” said Ms. White, the Pentagon spokeswoman, referring to North Korea by its acronym.

Two B-1 bombers flew from the U.S. territory of Guam, home to two U.S. military bases, including Andersen Air Force base and its fleet of B-1 bombers.

Mr. Kim in August threatened to launch a missile attack on the island of Guam, located roughly 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang, though he ratcheted back that threat days later.

The six F-15C escorts were deployed from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. David Benham said.

Cmdr. Benham didn’t comment on the planes’ armaments but said the F-15s provided fighter escort and “they are prepared to defend against attack, if necessary.”

Japan is within the range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, and in mid-September Mr. Kim launched a missile over Japan, the second such launch in the span of a month. That missile flew an estimated 2,300 miles, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which also would put Guam within range.

Cmdr. Benham declined to comment on whether North Korea responded in any way to the mission, citing policy to not discuss intelligence matters.

At the U.N., Mr. Ri said his country was a victim of unfair sanctions and biased action by the world body and said the U.N. was tilted in favor of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China.

North Korea appeared defiant against international criticism and U.N. Security Council action, dismissing both as unjustified pressure by the U.S. and its allies.

Seven representatives from North Korea were sitting in the country’s designated area in the General Assembly hall. Two American delegates were also present, listening to the speech and taking notes.

North Korea’s speech has been one of the most anticipated at the gathering of world leaders this year, along with Mr. Trump’s speech. North Korea has little interaction with the outside world, and the annual General Assembly meeting offers a unique opportunity for world leaders to hear directly from Pyongyang’s regime.

Many world leaders mentioned North Korea’s crisis in their own speeches to the assembly this week, urging its leaders to abandon its nuclear and missile tests in favor of diplomacy.

Ireland’s minister for environment, Denis Naughton, spoke at the podium Saturday before Mr. Ri. He urged North Korea to calm the tensions.

“This is a conflict the world does not need and we need to move away from,” Mr. Naughton said.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at and Ben Kesling at

World wonders could N. Korea fire nuclear missile over Japan

September 23, 2017

The Associated Press


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Will North Korea’s next nuclear test involve a thermonuclear missile screaming over Japan? That’s a question being asked after North Korea’s foreign minister said his country may test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

The world hasn’t seen an above-ground, atmospheric nuclear test since an inland detonation by China in 1980 and North Korea upending that could push the region dangerously close to war. The room for error would be minimal and any mistake could be disastrous. Even if successful, such a test could endanger air and sea traffic in the region.

Because of that many experts don’t think North Korea would take such a risk. But they’re also not ruling it out given the North’s increasing number of nuclear and missile tests.

The main reason for North Korea to take that risk would be to quiet outside doubts about whether it really has a thermonuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile, said Jeffrey Lewis, a U.S. arms control expert at the Middlebury Center of International Studies at Monterey. So far North Korea has been separately testing nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles built to deliver them, rather than testing them together.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho wouldn’t have spoken without approval from Pyongyang’s top leadership when he suggested to reporters in New York on Friday that the country could conduct an atmospheric hydrogen bomb test to fulfill the vows of the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim, in an unusual direct statement to the world, pledged hours earlier to take “highest-level” action against the United States over Donald Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North if provoked. Ri didn’t elaborate and said no one knew what decision Kim would make.

If North Korea attempts an atmospheric nuclear test at sea, it would likely involve its most powerful ballistic missiles, such as the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 or the intercontinental-range Hwasong-14, experts say. The country lacks assets to air-drop a nuclear device and sending a vessel out to sea to detonate a device raises the chances of getting detected and stopped by the U.S. military.

For the nuclear missile to reach a remote part of the Pacific, it would have to fly over Japan, as the North did with two Hwasong-12 test launches in recent weeks.

There have only been a handful of times when atmospheric nuclear tests involved ballistic missiles, including China’s fourth nuclear test in 1966. That involved a midrange Dongfeng-2 missile being launched from a deep inland rocket facility to the Lop Nur nuclear test site in the country’s far west.

Lewis finds similarities between the current situation surrounding North Korea and the events that led to China’s 1966 test, which was driven by U.S. doubts of Chinese capabilities to place nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles.

“The United States is still taking an attitude of skepticism toward North Korea’s nuclear capabilities,” he said. “The difference, of course, is that China fired its nuclear-armed missile over its own territory, not another country.”

A nuclear launch by North Korea would come dangerously close to an act of war, said Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert from South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute. Missile tests can easily go wrong and the consequences of failure could be terrifying if the missile is armed with a nuclear weapon.

A failed flight or an accidental detonation over Japan would likely trigger retaliation from Washington and Tokyo that might result in a nuclear war, he said.

“It’s reasonable to think that Ri was bluffing,” Lee said. “Would they be sure that the United States and Japan will just sit there and watch?”

But Lewis says that’s exactly what the United States and Japan will do.

“Although I am sure such a launch would be very alarming to people in Japan, there is little the United States or Japan could do,” he said. “Would we really start a war over such an act? I don’t think so.”

An atmospheric nuclear test would be far more dangerous than detonations in controlled underground environments, both because of the force of the blast and unrestrained release of radioactive materials that could spread out over large areas. Such a launch would potentially endanger aircraft and ships because it’s highly unlikely the North would give prior warnings or send naval vessels to the area to control sea traffic.

An atmospheric thermonuclear blast would also raise the risks of damage caused by an electromagnetic pulse, an intense wave of electrical energy generated by the explosion that could destroy electronic devices and equipment over a vast area, Lee said.

The United States and the old Soviet Union combined to conduct more than 400 atmospheric nuclear tests before they joined Britain in a 1963 treaty banning tests in the atmosphere, outer space and underwater. The treaty was later signed by more than 100 other countries. China conducted 22 atmospheric nuclear tests, which frequently involved bombers dropping nuclear devices on test sites, before its last one on 1980.

While the impact of previous tests hasn’t been fully understood, damage from radioactive fallout could be serious.

When the United States detonated its most powerful nuclear device in a 1954 test code-named Castle Bravo, the radioactive fallout spread far beyond the test site in the Marshall Islands.

Twenty-three crewmembers of a Japanese fishing vessel that was 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of the detonation site, were contaminated and suffered from radiation sickness. One of the fishermen, Matashichi Oishi, once told The Associated Press that he saw a flash before tiny white flakes fell on the crewmembers like snow.

North Korea in past months has been stepping up the aggressiveness of its nuclear and missile tests.

The North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3 in what it claimed as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental Hwasong-14 ICBMs. In two July flight tests, those missiles displayed the potential ability to reach deep into continental United States.

With its two Hwasong-12 launches over Japan in August and September, the North also broke from its previous test regime of firing missiles at highly lofted angles to reduce range and avoid other countries. The launches were seen as North Korea’s attempts to win more military space in a region dominated by its enemies and evaluate the performance and reliability of its missiles under operational conditions.

The North has also threatened to launch a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, the U.S. Pacific military hub.

Kim Dong-yub, a former South Korean military official who is now an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said it’s more likely that the North’s next significant launch would be a full-range test of an unarmed Hwasong-14 ICBM. The North could launch the missile at around 7,000 kilometers (4,349 miles) to display a capability to reach Hawaii or Alaska, he said.

Still, the past months have taught him not to underestimate what the North could do.

“North Korea has repeatedly exceeded my expectations and Kim Jong Un in the statement has vowed to go beyond any expectation,” said Kim, the analyst.


Japan Deploys Missile Interceptor Near Recent N. Korean Flight Path

September 19, 2017

TOKYO — Japan is moving a mobile missile-defense system on the northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover routes.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tuesday that a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor unit is being deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido.

The relocation comes days after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week that flew over southern Hokkaido and landing in the Pacific off the island’s east coast — a second flyover in less than a month. The PAC-3 was brought from another base on Hokkaido.

Four others of Japan’s 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital region, have been relocated to southwestern Japan recently after Pyongyang warned of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.

A television broadcast in South Korea last week reporting a North Korean missile launch. Credit Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Defiant North Korea Leader Kim Jong un Says He Will Complete Nuke Program

September 16, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is nearing its goal of “equilibrium” in military force with the United States, as the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the North’s “highly provocative” ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim’s comments on Saturday — a day after U.S. and South Korean militaries detected the missile launch from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

It traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) as it passed over the Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean. It was the country’s longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile.

The North has confirmed the missile as an intermediate range Hwasong-12, the same model launched over Japan on Aug. 29.

Under Kim’s watch, North Korea has maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including its most powerful nuclear test to date on Sept. 3 and two July flight tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could strike deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.

The increasingly frequent and aggressive tests have added to outside fears that the North is closer than ever to building a military arsenal that could viably target the U.S. and its allies in Asia. The tests, which could potentially make launches over Japan an accepted norm, are also seen as North Korea’s attempt to win greater military freedom in the region and raise doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation of a U.S. city to protect them.


The KCNA said Kim expressed great satisfaction over the launch, which he said verified the “combat efficiency and reliability” of the missile and the success of efforts to increase its power.

While the English version of the report was less straightforward, the Korean version quoted Kim as declaring the missile as operationally ready. He vowed to complete his nuclear weapons program in the face of strengthening international sanctions, the agency said.

Photos published by North Korea’s state media showed the missile being fired from a truck-mounted launcher and a smiling Kim clapping and raising his fist while celebrating from an observation point. It was the first time North Korea showed the missile being launched directly from a vehicle, which experts said indicated confidence about the mobility and reliability of the system. In previous tests, North Korea used trucks to transport and erect the Hwasong-12s, but moved the missiles on separate firing tables before launching them.


The U.N. Security Council accused North Korea of undermining regional peace and security by launching its latest missile over Japan and said its nuclear and missile tests “have caused grave security concerns around the world” and threaten all 193 U.N. member states.

Kim also said the country, despite “limitless” international sanctions, has nearly completed the building of its nuclear weapons force and called for “all-state efforts” to reach the goal and obtain a “capacity for nuclear counterattack the U.S. cannot cope with.”

“As recognized by the whole world, we have made all these achievements despite the U.N. sanctions that have lasted for decades,” the agency quoted Kim as saying.

Kim said the country’s final goal “is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option for the DPRK,” referring to North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

He indicated that more missile tests would be forthcoming, saying that all future drills should be “meaningful and practical ones for increasing the combat power of the nuclear force” to establish an order in the deployment of nuclear warheads for “actual war.”

Prior to the launches over Japan, North Korea had threatened to fire a salvo of Hwasong-12s toward Guam, the U.S. Pacific island territory and military hub the North has called an “advanced base of invasion.”

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The Security Council stressed in a statement after a closed-door emergency meeting that all countries must “fully, comprehensively and immediately” implement all U.N. sanctions.

Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Koro Bessho called the missile launch an “outrageous act” that is not only a threat to Japan’s security but a threat to the whole world.

Bessho and the British, French and Swedish ambassadors demanded that all sanctions be implemented.

Calling the latest launch a “terrible, egregious, illegal, provocative reckless act,” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said North Korea’s largest trading partners and closest links — a clear reference to China — must “demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to implement the sanctions of the Security Council and to encourage the North Korean regime to change course.”

France’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country is ready to work on tougher U.N. and EU measures to convince Pyongyang that there is no interest in an escalation, and to bring it to the negotiating table.

Friday’s launch followed North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 in what it described as a detonation of a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental ICBMs.

The Hwasong-12 and the Hwasong-14 were initially fired at highly lofted angles to reduce their range and avoid neighboring countries. The two Hwasong-12 launches over Japan indicate North Korea is moving toward using angles close to operational to evaluate whether its warheads can survive the harsh conditions of atmospheric re-entry and detonate properly.

While some experts believe North Korea would need to conduct more tests to confirm Hwasong-12’s accuracy and reliability, Kim Jong Un’s latest comments indicate the country would soon move toward mass producing the missiles for operational deployment, said Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies. He also said that the North is likely planning similar test launches of its Hwasong-14 ICBM.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who initially pushed for talks with North Korea, said its tests currently make dialogue “impossible.”

“If North Korea provokes us or our allies, we have the strength to smash the attempt at an early stage and inflict a level of damage it would be impossible to recover from,” said Moon, who ordered his military to conduct a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the North Korean launch.


Lederer reported from the United Nations.

N. Korea ‘has Guam in mind’: Japan minister

September 15, 2017


© AFP | Japan’s Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera says North Korea may have Guam in mind after its latest missile launch

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan’s defence minister said Friday he believed North Korea “has Guam in mind” after its most recent missile launch, noting it had sufficient range to hit the US territory.Pyongyang has threatened the US Pacific territory with “enveloping fire,” sparking dire warnings from US President Donald Trump.

Itsunori Onodera told reporters that Friday’s missile, which overflew Japanese territory, flew 3,700 kilometres — “long enough to cover Guam”, which is 3,400 kilometres (2,100 miles) from North Korea.

“We cannot assume North Korea’s intention, but given what it has said, I think it has Guam in mind,” Onodera said.

He warned that “similar actions” by the North would continue as Pyongyang appeared to have shrugged off UN sanctions agreed earlier this week.

The US Pacific Command confirmed the launch was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) but said it posed no threat to Guam or to the American mainland.

It was “the furthest overground any of their ballistic missiles has ever travelled”, Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter.

For the second time in less than a month, it overflew Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, sparking loudspeaker alerts and warnings to citizens to take cover.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could “never tolerate” what he called a “dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace”.

Onodera said the Japanese military had “tracked the missile from the very start of the launch until it fell in the water, and we judged there was no such need” to shoot down the missile because it was not likely to enter Japanese territory.


U.N. Security Council to meet after North Korea fires another missile over Japan

September 15, 2017


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SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired a second missile over Japan far out into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, deepening tension after Pyongyang’s recent test of its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb.

The U.N. Security Council was to meet later in the day to discuss the launch at the request of the United States and Japan, diplomats said.

The missile flew over Hokkaido in the north and landed in the Pacific about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) to the east, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The missile reached an altitude of about 770 km (480 miles) and flew for about 19 minutes over about 3,700 km (2,300 miles), according to South Korea’s military – far enough to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, which the North has threatened before.

On Aug 29, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, which traveled 2,700 km (1,700 miles) over Japan.

“The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile,” the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement.

But it said the accuracy of the missile, still at an early stage of development, was low.

Warning announcements about the missile blared around 7 a.m. (2200 GMT Thursday) in parts of northern Japan, while many residents received alerts on their mobile phones or saw warnings on TV telling them to seek refuge.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the launch “put millions of Japanese into duck and cover”, although residents of northern Japan appeared calm and went about their business as normal after the second such launch in less than a month.

The U.S. military said soon after the launch it had detected a single intermediate range ballistic missile but the missile did not pose a threat to North America or Guam, which lies 3,400 km (2,110 miles) from North Korea.

U.S. officials repeated Washington’s “ironclad” commitments to the defense of its allies. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for “new measures” against North Korea and said the “continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation”.

North Korea fires second missile over Japan as US tells China and Russia to take ‘direct action’ – latest news

September 15, 2017

North Korea has fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.

It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close US ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on September 3.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile travelled about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) while reaching a maximum height of 770 kilometers (478 miles).

Unnerving alert sirens ring out in Japan in response to North Korea's missile launch
Unnerving alert sirens ring out in Japan in response to North Korea’s missile launch


The missile, launched from Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport, flew farther than any other missile North Korea has fired. The distance it flew is slightly greater than between the North Korean capital and the American air base in Guam.

It was “the furthest overground any of their ballistic missiles has ever travelled”, Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter.

This is the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 l that was launched on August 29 by North Korea
This is the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 l that was launched on August 29 by North Korea CREDIT: AFP

Physicist David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, added: “North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known” and its accuracy was in doubt.

Sirens sounded and alerts were issued in Japan as residents were warned to take shelter while the missile passed over Hoakkaido.

“We can never tolerate that North Korea trampled on the international community’s strong, united resolve toward peace that has been shown in UN resolutions and went ahead again with this outrageous act,” Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, said.

Jim Mattis, US Defence Secretary, called the latest missile launch a reckless act and “put millions of Japanese in duck and cover”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia to do more to rein in North Korea.

“China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own,” Mr Tillerson said in a statement.

In response to the launch, South Korea’s military immediately carried out a ballistic missile drill of its own, the defence ministry said, adding it took place while the North’s rocket was still airborne.

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A South Korean Hyunmoo-II missile is fired toward the East Sea in response to the latest North Korean missile test CREDIT: EPA

One Hyunmu missile travelled 250 kilometres into the East Sea, Korea’s name for the Sea of Japan – a trajectory intentionally chosen to represent the distance to the launch site at Sunan, near Pyongyang’s airport, it added.

But embarrassingly, another failed soon after being fired.

President Moon Jae-In told an emergency meeting of Seoul’s national security council that dialogue with the North was “impossible in a situation like this”, adding that the South had the power to destroy it.

In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later on Friday

North Korea last month used the airport to fire a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile that flew over northern Japan.

Pedestrians walk under a large-scale monitor displaying the flying course of a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan
Pedestrians walk under a large-scale monitor displaying the flying course of a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan  CREDIT: EPA

The North then declared it a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam and the start of more ballistic missile launches toward the Pacific Ocean.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denounced North Korea’s latest launch, saying he was conveying “strong anger” on behalf of the Japanese people.

Mr Suga said Japan “will not tolerate the repeated and excessive provocations.”

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Boris Johnson urged united response to North Korea’s latest missile test

The latest missile launch by North Korea must be met with a united international response, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has urged.

Mr Johnson condemned the test as “illegal” and the latest sign of “provocation” from Pyongyang.

“Yet another illegal missile launch by North Korea. UK and international community will stand together in the face of these provocations,” he said on Twitter.

In a subsequent statement, he added: “The UK and the international community have condemned the aggressive and illegal actions of the North Korean regime, and the succession of missile and nuclear tests. We stand firmly by Japan and our other international partners.

“We are working to mobilise world opinion with the aim of achieving a diplomatic solution to the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“This week the most stringent UN sanctions regime placed on any nation in the 21st century was imposed on North Korea, after being unanimously agreed at the UN Security Council.

“These measures now need to be robustly enforced. We urge all states to play their part in changing the course North Korea is taking.”

Yet another illegal missile launch by North Korea. UK and international community will stand together in the face of these provocations.

Before the latest launch, Mr Johnson had called for China to use its influence over North Korea to ease tensions caused by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programmes.

At a press conference with US counterpart Rex Tillerson on Thursday, Mr Johnson said Pyongyang had “defied the world”.

What kinds of missile was launched by North Korea?

The missile was launched from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport and the origin of the earlier missile that flew over Japan.

Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same intermediate-range missile launched in that earlier flight, the Hwasong-12, and was meant to show Washington that the North can hit Guam if it chose to do so.

This graphic explains what we know about North Korea’s missiles:

North Korea ‘has Guam in mind’, says Japan

Japan’s defence minister said on Friday that he believed North Korea “has Guam in mind” after its most recent missile launch, noting it had sufficient range to hit the US territory.

Pyongyang has threatened to hit the US Pacific territory with “enveloping fire,” sparking dire warnings from US President Donald Trump.

Itsunori Onodera told reporters that the latest missile, which overflew Japanese territory, flew 2,300 miles – “long enough to cover Guam”, which is 2,100 miles from North Korea.

“We cannot assume North Korea’s intention, but given what it has said, I think it has Guam in mind,” Onodera said.

He warned that “similar actions (by the North) would continue” as Pyongyang appeared to have shrugged off UN sanctions agreed earlier this week.

The US Pacific Command confirmed the launch was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) but said it posed no threat to Guam or to the American mainland.

But, for the second time in less than a month, it overflew Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, sparking loudspeaker alerts and warnings to citizens to take cover.

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North Korea Fires Missile in Defiance of U.N. Sanctions — “No question” North Korea can now hit Guam

September 15, 2017

Missile fired early Friday passed over Hokkaido; no damage or injuries immediately reported

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Graphics and Video
What a War With North Korea Might Look Like
Around the Korean peninsula, American leaders have been openly discussing what was once unthinkable: A military intervention in North Korea. If this were to happen, here’s how specialists on North Korean security see things playing out. Graphic: Sharon Shi for The Wall Street Journal

North Korea fired a missile over Japan early Friday local time for the second time in a month, defying rising international efforts to force it to abandon course.

In a rare move, South Korea responded to the launch by immediately conducting a simulated strike of the North Korean launch site, an air base near Pyongyang. In Japan, alerts were sent to smartphones of people living in areas where the missile was projected to pass over soon after the launch was detected. No damage or injuries were reported.

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The latest missile launch marked Pyongyang’s latest provocation after the United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted new sanctions against North Korea.

The Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Friday at the request of the U.S. and Japan. A new violation by the North, in response to the adoption of the fresh sanctions, was anticipated, some diplomats said, raising the stakes for finding a diplomatic solution.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the new sanctions to be fully enforced.

“We need to make North Korea understand that there is no bright future for them if they pursue this course further,” he said.

The latest missile passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean shortly after 7 a.m. Japan time, a similar path to another missile launched on Aug. 29. It traveled around 2,300 miles, according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, further than the roughly 1,700 miles traveled by the previous missile, highlighting the country’s progress in developing nuclear weapons that can threaten the U.S.

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, in Pyongyang on Sept. 4.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, in Pyongyang on Sept. 4. PHOTO: KCNA/REUTERS

North Korea has twice tested intercontinental-range missiles this year. The latest launch was of a shorter-range projectile that wouldn’t be able to reach the U.S. mainland. The country frequently threatens U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including a specific threat to Guam last month. Guam is about 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang.

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said that based on initial data, the missile was likely a Hwasong-12 type device, which was also used in the Aug. 29 launch.

“They are working towards demonstrating they can hit Guam,” she said.

The U.S. Pacific Command confirmed the latest launch was of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that it said posed no threat to the U.S. mainland or Guam.

In Washington, President Donald Trump was briefed on the launch by John Kelly, his chief of staff, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said they hoped that China would eventually back an oil embargo to get North Korea to come to the negotiating table.

Mr. Tillerson said that after the U.S. and other powers last week watered down a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea, including shifting from a ban on oil shipments to a cap to bring China on board, he hoped that China would decide “to take it up upon themselves to use that very powerful tool of oil supply to persuade North Korea to reconsider” its development of weapons and its approach to dialogue and negotiations in the future.

In a statement following the missile launch, Mr. Tillerson also called on Russia to crack down on the use of forced North Korean labor, which provides millions of dollars annually to the regime in Pyongyang.

On his way back to the U.S. from meetings in London, Mr. Tillerson spoke by phone with his counterparts in Seoul and Tokyo. An aide said they noted that the latest test represents the second time recently that Japan, a treaty ally of the U.S., has been directly threatened by North Korea.

The North Korean missile was the sixth to pass over Japanese territory since 1998. Japan’s Defense Ministry recently requested around $1.6 billion for new missile-defense technology in its budget for the fiscal year starting next April.

South Korea has recently been bolstering its own defense capabilities in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile tests. Seoul earlier this week held its first live-fire test of cruise missiles designed to destroy the North Korean leadership’s underground bunkers.

South Korea has also rushed the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, in the country’s southeast, speeding up an environmental assessment that had temporarily stalled the process.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in himself presided over a National Security Council meeting Friday to discuss North Korea’s continued provocations, according to the presidential office in Seoul.

At the meeting, according to his office, Mr. Moon urged that additional preparations be undertaken to counter potential electromagnetic pulse, biochemical and other attacks from North Korea. ​

In its simulated strike of the North Korean launch site on Friday, the South Korean missile flew about 155 miles off the country’s east coast, with the flight distance adjusted to match that needed to hit the launch site, according to the Defense Ministry in Seoul.

Write to Alastair Gale at and Kwanwoo Jun at

North Korea shows capability of striking Guam with missiles


SEOUL—North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Sept. 15 showed for the first time that the U.S. island territory of Guam is well within range of Pyongyang’s arsenal.

The missile, which flew over Hokkaido, landed in the Pacific Ocean about 3,700 kilometers from its launch site in a suburb of Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The distance from the suburb to Guam is 3,400 to 3,500 km.

Experts say the missile was most likely the Hwasong-12, the same model that North Korea fired over Hokkaido on Aug. 29.

North Korea on Aug. 9 threatened to firing intermediate ballistic missiles into sea areas near Guam, and indicated that the Hwasong-12, whose range is 4,500 to 5,000 km, would be used.

The missile that flew over Japan on Aug. 29 traveled for 2,700 km. South Korea’s National Defense Ministry reported to national assembly that North Korea shortened the flying distance of the Hwasong-12 to about half.

Experts say the two missile launches from the Sunan district in the Pyongyang suburb show that North Korea has gained confidence in its missile technologies.

“If a missile is launched from a site near the capital, it could cause serious damage (to residents) if it fails to fly properly,” said Park Won-gon, professor of international relations at the Handong Global University of South Korea. “Despite that risk, North Korea fired two missiles in a row from there. That means that the country has confidence in missile operations.”

North Korea Sends Ballistic Missile Over Japan — Ignores “Meaningless” International Sanctions

September 15, 2017

BBC News

Friday, September 15, 

A passerby looks at a TV screen reporting news about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan, 15 SeptemberImage copyrightREUTERS
A passerby looks at a TV screen reporting news about North Korea’s missile launch in Tokyo. Reuters

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile across Japan, creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago.

The missile reached an altitude of about 770km (478 miles), travelling 3,700km before landing in the sea off Hokkaido, South Korea’s military says.

It flew higher and further than one fired over Japan late last month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would “never tolerate” such “dangerous provocative action”.

South Korea responded within minutes by firing two ballistic missiles into the sea in a simulated strike on the North.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also condemned the launch and the UN Security Council will meet later on Friday in New York at the request of America and Japan.

Why does this new test matter?

The launch took place from the Sunan airfield north of Pyongyang just before 07:00 local time (22:00 GMT on Thursday), South Korea’s military says.

As with the last test on 29 August, the missile flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. There were no immediate reports of damage to aircraft or ships.

Sirens sounded across the region and text message alerts were sent out warning people to take cover.

Comparison of missile launches over Japan
15 September 29 August
Distance travelled 3,700km (2,299 miles) 2,700km
Maximum altitude 770km 550km
Landing distance from Japan 2,200km 1,180km
Flight duration 19 minutes 32 minutes
Missile type Thought to be intermediate range missile Thought to be intermediate range Hwasong-12

Observers say it is likely to have been an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) though Japanese officials believe there is still a possibility it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

What is so alarming about the new launch is that the US Pacific territory of Guam, which North Korea says it has plans to fire missiles towards, is 3,400km from Pyongyang, putting it within range of the latest missile.

BBC map

Sanctions on the North were tightened this week in response to its sixth nuclear test on 3 September, which reportedly involved a miniaturised hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile.

How will the international community respond?

After the latest round of sanctions, it is not clear what other course of action is open to the UN Security Council.

Only on Monday, the Security Council voted unanimously to restrict oil imports and ban textile exports, in an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes.

A South Korean Hyunmoo-II missile being fired toward the East Sea, at an undisclosed location, South Korea, 15 September 2017
South Korea tested missiles in response to the North’s new launch. EPA photo

Mr Tillerson put the burden of response to the latest test on China and Russia, the North’s main economic partners.

They “must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own”, he said.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg described the missile launch as “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat to international peace and security which demands a global response”.

In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting of his national security council, where he said that dialogue with the North was “impossible in a situation like this”.

Officials have been ordered to prepare for possible North Korean chemical, biological and electromagnetic pulse attacks, a presidential spokesman said.

Why is the North acting like this?

It insists it needs a nuclear-weapons programme to ensure its survival and there has been no let-up in its fiery rhetoric.

On Thursday, it threatened to “sink Japan and turn America to ashes”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.
North Korea said in early September that it had tested a “missile-ready” hydrogen bomb. Reuters

North Korea’s missile programme

How would war with North Korea unfold?
  • Pyongyang has been developing weapons, initially based on the Soviet-developed Scud, for decades
  • Conducted short and medium-range missile tests on many occasions, sometimes to mark domestic events or periods of regional tension
  • Pace of tests has increased in recent months; experts say North Korea appears to be making significant advances towards building a reliable long-range nuclear-capable weapon
  • On 3 September, North Korea said it tested a hydrogen bomb that could be miniaturised and loaded on a long-range missile

Pushing the envelope

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, Tokyo

A missile is seen taking off from a grassy field in a burst of burning fuel and smoke
North Korea’s rocket launch last month was described by Japan as an “unprecedented threat” — KCNA

This test came as a surprise to nobody.

North Korea is steadily proceeding down the path to full ICBM capability. To do that, it needs to test-fire its projectiles – every other missile-armed nation has done the same.

It started earlier this year by firing its new longer-range Hwasong missiles into the Sea of Japan, then flew one over Hokkaido in August. Next it tested a powerful nuclear device, which it claims it can put on a missile.

Now it has tested another intermediate range missile at longer range and higher altitude.

The next step will almost certainly be a test of the Hwasong-14 ICBM over Japan and far out into the Pacific.

The aim of all this is to develop and deploy a reliable missile that can hit the mainland US.