N. Korea Fires ICBM, Launch Fails after Stage Separation
North Korean provocations continued throughout the week, including with the launch of a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday. That missile, which triggered air raid sirens and a “shelter in place” alert in Japan, came a day after an unprecedented barrage of 23 missiles on Wednesday, including one fired into the South Korean side of the East Sea.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff(JCS) said North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward the East Sea Thursday morning, including an intercontinental ballistic missile.
The ICBM launch appears to have failed after the projectile lost thrust following its successful first- and second-stage separations.
After taking off from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at around 7:40 a.m. Thursday, the ICBM soared up to one-thousand-920 kilometers and flew around 760 kilometers, hitting a top speed of Mach 15, according to the JCS.
The military believes that the projectile was one of the North’s Hwasong-17, constructed as a two-stage rocket capable of reaching the U.S.’ east coast with a maximum range of 15-thousand kilometers.
Japan initially said that the projectile flew over Japanese territory, prompting it to issue a "shelter in place" alert for three prefectures, but Tokyo’s defense ministry later said that the missile did not fly over the island nation due to a deviation from its projected trajectory.
The remaining two short-range missiles fired from the North's Kaechon area in South Pyongan Province at 8:39 a.m. flew around 330 kilometers, according to South Korea’s JCS.
The JCS said that the military is maintaining a firm readiness posture in close cooperation with the U.S. while enhancing monitoring and surveillance efforts in response to the North’s provocations protesting the allies’ joint Vigilant Storm aerial exercises running from Monday to Friday.
Thursday’s launches come after the North fired around 25 ballistic missiles and 100 artillery shells on Wednesday, to which the South Korean Air Force responded later in the day by scrambling F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets.
The jets fired precision strike air-to-surface Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response, or SLAM-ER, missiles north of the NLL at a distance the JCS says was nearly equidistant to that of the North’s NLL violation, some 26 kilometers past the line.