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N. Korea Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile Over Japan, Escalating Regional Tensions

Expert says the missile test was meant to send a 'clear message' to the US

North Korea launched a missile over Japan for the first time in five years, marking the longest weapons test in its history.

Japan issued emergency evacuation orders and suspended trains, as the nuclear-capable missile — which is able to strike the U.S. territory of Guam — flew toward the island

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan called the missile launch an “act that can potentially seriously impact the lives and property of the Japanese people.”

CBS reports that it only took 22 minutes for the missile to fly 2,800 miles (the distance from New York to California) before crashing into the sea.

The PM’s Office said the Japanese Government would confirm if residents suffered damage from falling debris, and coordinate responses with the U.S. and South Korea.

The launch was the fifth missile test in the last 10 days by North Korea. Over the course of this year, North Korea has test-fired about 40 missiles.

Military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as South Korea and Japan, are likely what triggered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to conduct the missile test, according to ABC News.

The launch was intended to send a clear message to the U.S., Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha University told Agency France-Presse (AFP).

“As these are missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, the launch also has a political goal of once again declaring North Korea a de-facto nuclear power and showing its complete denuclearization is impossible,” he said.

Won-gon added that the test demonstrates that Pyongyang has South Korea, Japan, and Guam within range and can target U.S. bases with nuclear weapons should war break out on the Korean Peninsula.

Following the provocation, U.S. National Security Counsel (NSC) spokesperson Adrienne Watson condemned North Korea’s actions, calling the missile launch dangerous and reckless.

“This action is destabilizing and shows [North Korea’s] blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms,” she said.

Watson says U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan spoke to his regional counterparts and reinforced the U.S. commitment to Japan and South Korea.

“The United States will continue its efforts to limit [North Korea’s] ability to advance its prohibited ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs, including with allies and UN partners,” Watson added.

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