North Korea has fired what appeared to be the most powerful missile it has tested since US President Joe Biden took office.
The Japanese and South Korean militaries said the missile was launched on a lofted trajectory, apparently to avoid the territorial spaces of neighbours, and reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles) and travelled 800 kilometres (497 miles) before landing in the sea.
Flight details suggest the North tested its longest-range ballistic missile since 2017, when it twice flew intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japan and separately flight-tested three intercontinental-range ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that demonstrated the potential range to reach deep into the American homeland.
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Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Sunday’s missile flew for around 30 minutes and landed in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone. There were no immediate reports of damage to boats or aircraft.
Sunday’s test was the North’s seventh round of weapons launches this month.
Spates of tests conducted by the state are widely thought to symbol pressure on the Biden administration over long-stalled nuclear negotiations.
North Korea’s economy has been hit hard by US-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme, alongside decades of mismanagement and recently the COVID pandemic.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency National Security Council meeting where he described the test as a possible "midrange ballistic missile launch" that brought North Korea close to breaking its 2018 suspension in the testing of nuclear devices and longer-range ballistic missiles.
Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters it was clear that the missile was the longest-range weapon the North has tested since launching its Hwasong-15 ICBM in November 2017.
The US Indo Pacific Command said the US condemns North Korea’s testing activity and calls on the North to refrain from further destabilising acts. It said the latest launch did not "pose an immediate threat to US personnel, territory, or that of our allies".