North Korea fired an unidentified projectile on
Thursday, the South Korean military said causing Japan to issue an emergency
warning to ships over “a potentially ballistic missile probably launched from
North Korea,” AFP reported. The missile landed in an exclusive economic zone of
Japan, a Japanese defence official said.  

The firing is the latest in provocations from North
Korea. South Korea and the United States have said earlier that Kim Jong Un was
preparing a flight of its biggest-yet intercontinental ballistic missile.

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While the South Korean military did not immediately
say whether the launched missile was ballistic and how far it flew, Japan’s
Defence Minister Makoto Onini said the missile reached a height of 6,000 kilometres
and was possibly a new kind of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

Thursday’s launch was North Korea’s 12th
round of weapons launch this year and almost immediately follows the launch of
suspected artillery pieces into the sea on Sunday.

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North Korea has been testing a slew of new missiles.
In 2017, Pyongyang fired an intermediate range missile potentially capable of
reaching Guam, a key US military hub in the Pacific.   

In recent weeks, North Korea conducted two
medium-range tests from Sunan, the country’s main airport.

North Korea’s official media
insisted that the two successful tests were aimed at developing cameras and
other systems for a spy satellite. Analysts say the North is clearly attempting
to simultaneously resume ICBM testing and acquire some level of space-based
reconnaissance capability under the pretense of a space launch to reduce
international backlash to those moves.

launch may possibly come around a major political anniversary in April, the
birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of current leader
Kim Jong Un.

North’s previous ICBMs demonstrated potential range to reach the American
homeland during three flight tests in 2017. Its development of the larger
Hwasong-17, which was first revealed in a military parade in October 2020,
possibly indicates an aim to arm it with multiple warheads to overwhelm missile
defenses, experts say.