North Korea launches another ICBM ahead of South Korea-Japan summit

N:North Korea reportedly fired an intercontinental ballistic missile hours before a planned summit in Tokyo between the leaders of South Korea and Japan aimed at mending ties and strengthening security cooperation with the US ally.

Japan has determined that the missile fired by North Korea on Thursday was most likely an ICBM, national public broadcaster NHK reported in a one-line broadcast. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch of a long-range ballistic missile took place at 7:10 a.m. from an area near Pyongyang’s main international airport, where North Korea has the capability to launch ICBMs designed to carry warheads. USA.

The missile appeared to have been launched on a high trajectory and traveled about 1,000 kilometers, JCS said, while Kyodo News said it fell in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. North Korea last tested an ICBM about a month ago. That rocket flew for about 66 minutes and reached an altitude of about 5,700 km (3,540 miles) and a range of about 900 km.

Thursday’s ICBM capped a busy few weeks for North Korea, which has launched 11 ballistic missiles since Feb. 18, including another ICBM and what appears to be a new short-range ballistic missile designed to hit U.S. bases in South Korea. : It also fired two cruise missiles from a submarine in what appeared to be another first.

It was North Korea’s third ICBM launch since November, when Kim brought his teenage daughter to a launch where she made her state media debut. His appearance signaled that another generation was waiting in the Cold War-era family dynasty, and its survival would depend on nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol left South Korea for Tokyo on Thursday as he seeks to end years of controversy over reparations for the use of Korean forced labor during Japan’s 1910-45 occupation of the peninsula. It is the first visit by a South Korean leader since 2019 and will include a meeting with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the first such summit on Japanese soil in more than a decade.

Before Yoon left for Japan, South Korea convened a meeting of its National Security Council to discuss the launch.

Yoon and Kishida will discuss a proposal in which some South Korean companies would pay into a fund that would offer compensation to Koreans conscripted to work in Japanese mines and factories during the colonial era.

Under Yun’s plan for colonial-era workers, South Korean companies, not Japanese, would fund a fund that would pay Korean recruits. Japan has indicated it may withdraw export controls that took effect several years ago as the controversy erupted, which could help secure supplies of critical materials for South Korean chipmakers.

President Joe Biden’s administration hailed the move, calling it a “landmark” deal. Yu said it was in the interests of both countries to “end the vicious circle of mutual hostility and work together.”

The forced labor agreement could open up new areas of cooperation between the three parties, in addition to patching up an intelligence-sharing agreement that nearly collapsed at the height of recent disputes. While Yoo has stepped up security cooperation with Washington and Tokyo, including trilateral military exercises in international waters off the Korean Peninsula, deeper ties have been elusive as South Korea waits for casualties from Japanese companies.

North Korea considers Japan, South Korea and the United States its mortal enemies, and Kim Jong-un is building up his state’s ability to launch a nuclear strike that could hit its neighbors and deliver a warhead to the American mainland.

Yun said in a joint interview with international media ahead of the trip that North Korea’s current nuclear situation is different from the past and threatens peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond. He said cooperation between his country, Japan and the United States was more important than ever and that Seoul would continue to pressure Kim to abandon his nuclear ambitions. Yun also said the US was not part of the deal to fix the forced labor problem.

“As the complete denuclearization of North Korea is the clear and unchanging goal of the international community, the Republic of Korea will never recognize North Korea as a nuclear state under any circumstances,” Yun said, referring to his country by its official name.

The latest launch also coincided with joint US-South Korean military exercises that began this week, which have been condemned by Pyongyang.

The United States and South Korea began the 11-day Freedom Shield exercise on Monday, one of the most important military exercises between the two allies in recent years. The exercises are aimed at strengthening their defense capabilities against North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

North Korea has condemned such exercises, considering them as a prelude to a possible invasion and nuclear war.

— Assisted by Ryotaro Nakamaru.

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