North Korea launches ICBM toward Japan 2nd time

North Korea launches ICBM toward Japan for 2nd time this month

, USA TODAYPublished 11:36 a.m. ET July 28, 2017 | Updated 4:04 p.m. ET July 28, 2017

North Korea launches an ICBM into the Sea ...

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North Korea has fired an ICBM, traveling 620 miles into the Sea of Japan. Buzz60

(Photo: Wong Maye-E, AP)

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For the second time this month, North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile Friday, sending the projectile 600 miles into the Sea of Japan.

The Pentagon said in a statement that the missile, which was determined to be an ICBM, was launched from Mupyong-ni in North Korea's Chagang province and never posed a threat to North America.

In a later statement, the Pentagon said Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. Harry Harris, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, called Gen. Lee Sun Jin, chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, and "expressed the ironclad commitment to the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance."

The statement said the three leaders "also discussed military response options."

North Korea test-launched its first ICBM on July 4 in a major step toward developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council, the Associated Press reported.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said North Korea fired the missile at 11:42 p.m. local time Friday in a rare night launch. Japanese officials said the missile was airborne for about 45 minutes.

Suga said Japan lodged a strong protest with North Korea. “North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted,” he said.

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Swimmers gather in a wave pool at a water park in a leisure complex in Pyongyang on July 21.  Ed Jones, AFP/Getty Images

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The missile landed west of Japan's island of Hokkaido. Japan's national public broadcaster NHK reported the coast guard issued safety warnings to aircraft and ships after the launch was detected.

North Korea, which did not immediately confirm the launch, frequently makes a high-profile military gesture on important holidays. Thursday marked a major national holiday called Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War Day.

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Analysts say the “Hwasong 14” ICBM launched by North Korea on July 4 could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory. It was launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached a height of more than 1,550 miles before splashing down in the ocean 580 miles away.

After the July 4 launch, the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency's revised consensus forecast concluded in a confidential assessment that North Korea likely would be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable ICBM as early as next year, some two years sooner than previous estimates, The Washington Post reported.

Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, told the National Press Club in Washington this week that there was still the possibility for a non-military solution to the crisis over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, but "time is running out."

"North Korea is extremely dangerous and more dangerous as the weeks go by," he said.

Contributing: Jim Michaels and Tom Vanden Brook in Washington; Associated Press

 

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