North Korea fires Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile


SEOUL  (REUTERS): North Korea said on Sunday it had fired a Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the day before in a “sudden launching drill” that confirmed its readiness for a “mobile and mighty counterattack” against hostile forces.

North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the sea off Japan’s west coast on Saturday afternoon after warning of a strong response to upcoming military drills by South Korea and the United States.

“The surprise ICBM launching drill … is an actual proof of the DPRK strategic nuclear force’s consistent efforts to turn its capacity of fatal nuclear counterattack on the hostile forces into the irresistible one,” the state news agency KCNA said, using the abbreviation for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, bristled at the United States for trying to turn the UN Security Council into what she called a “tool for its heinous hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.

“I warn that we will watch every movement of the enemy and take corresponding and very powerful and overwhelming counteraction against its every move hostile to us,” she said in a statement.

Saturday’s missile launch, the North’s first since January 1, came after Pyongyang threatened on Friday an “unprecedentedly persistent, strong” response as South Korea and the United States gear up for annual military exercises as part of efforts to fend off the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

The state news agency said the missile had flown for 1 hour, 6 minutes, and 55 seconds, as high as 5,768 km (3,584 miles), before accurately hitting a pre-set area 989 km (614 miles) away in open waters. Hwasong-15 was first tested in 2017.

Japanese said on Saturday the missile had plunged into waters inside its exclusive economic zone.

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