For the second time in a month, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan early on Friday, Sept. 15. This one was launched from a point near the country’s main international airport in the district of Sunan, where the North Korean capital of Pyongyang is also located. It reached an altitude of 770km, flying about 3,700km before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean and exploding.
On Sept. 3, North Korea exploded its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb.
The US Pacific Command said its initial assessment indicated that North Korea had fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile. There were conflicting reports from Japan on the type of missile fired, indicating a certain lack of trust between Tokyo and Washington. Some Japanese sources asserted that it was a long-range ballistic missile whose range was longer than the distance between North Korea and Guam, the island holding big US bases which Kim Jong-un had threatened to hit.
The latest missile to fly over their heads triggered sirens on Japan’s eastern island of Hokkado sending residents rushing to shelters.
Exactly 90 minutes after the launch, a North Korean Air Koryo flight 151 took off from Pyongyang for Beijing
apparently signifying that shooting missiles was not an extraordinary event for the North Korean ruler.
South Korea responded with a live fire drill that included a missile launch which the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said was capable of striking Sunan launch pad from which the latest North Korean missile was test-fired.
The Trump administration’s response did not indicate that any action was afoot. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke of a reckless action that put millions of Japanese in duck and cover mode, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson again called on China and Russia to restrain Pyongyang.