It has been reported that North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles, with one landing near Japan for the first time.
It is understood that the main body of the missile landed in Japan’s economic exclusion zone, a Japanese defence official said, escalating regional tensions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launches a “serious threat.”
“That it landed in our nation’s EEZ makes it an intolerable act of recklessness.”
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Wednesday morning. One exploded after launch.
The missile, believed to be a Rodong-1, is a single stage medium range ballistic missile developed by North Korea. Developed in the mid-1980s, it is a scaled up adaptation of the Soviet SS-1, more commonly known by its NATO reporting name “Scud”.
It is believed North Korea obtained Scud-B designs from Egypt and possibly Scud-C designs from China, and reverse-engineered them into a larger, longer-distance weapon dubbed the Rodong. US reconnaissance satellites first detected this type in May 1990.
While some North Korean pronouncements have been treated with skepticism and ridicule, analysts are treating the unusual pace of North Korean rocket and nuclear testing in early 2016 quite seriously.
At an extreme, Admiral Bill Gortney, head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, told Congress in March 2016, “It’s the prudent decision on my part to assume that Kim Jong Un has the capability to miniaturise a nuclear weapon and put it on an ICBM,” suggesting a major shift from a few years earlier.
North Korea appeared to launch a missile test from a submarine on 23 April 2016; while the missile only traveled 30 km, one US analyst noted that “North Korea’s sub launch capability has gone from a joke to something very serious”.
North Korea has conducted multiple missile tests in 2016.