Pyongyang’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan heightened tensions in East Asia

North Korea has fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan for the first time since 2017. Against the background of fears of a seventh nuclear test by Pyongyang, this launch suddenly created tension in East Asia. The ship departed eastbound from North Korea’s Jagang province at 7:23 a.m. on Tuesday, October 4. It traveled 4,500 kilometers before sinking in the Pacific Ocean.

Its vertical passage in the north of the archipelago forced Tokyo to activate its J-Alert system. Residents of Hokkaido and Aomori departments (north) have been called to shelter. Rail traffic was briefly interrupted. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned a “imprudent act” that he condemns sharply.

South Korean President Yoon Seok-youl has promised one “determined reaction”. “This action is destabilizing and shows blatant disregard for the DPRK [RPDC, nom officiel du Nord] for Security Council Resolutions and International Security”said Adrienne Watson, spokeswoman for the United States National Security Council.

The missile would be a Hwasong-12, a model similar to the one launched in August 2017. That was followed by a nuclear test – the sixth – which Pyongyang described as that of an a “Hydrogen bomb capable of equipping an ICBM”.

rocket launch burst

A similar sequence is feared. South Korea’s Intelligence Agency (NIS) expects a seventh trial against North Korea between the Chinese Communist Party Congress, which begins on October 16, and the November 8 midterm elections in the United States. The latest satellite observations revealed Oct. 4 by the Center for International and Strategic Studies, an American think tank, show continued activity at Punggye-ri, the northern nuclear test site.

However, the context is very different from 2017. Five years ago, US President Donald Trump responded to the IRBM nuclear test sequence with a threat “completely destroy” North Korea. The United Nations had imposed particularly severe sanctions.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Tensions on the Korean peninsula before the Pyongyang nuclear test

This time the shot follows a veritable spate of short-range missile launches between September 25th and 1st.ah October. Pyongyang, which has not commented on the launches, appeared to be protesting against large-scale military maneuvers – including by the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan – which mobilized South Korea, the United States and Japan from September 25th to 30th and against the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to South Korea on September 29th. 1ah October was also Armed Forces Day in South Korea.

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