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North Korea launches IRBM over Japan

Hwasong-12 launch January 2022
North Korea last launched an IRBM in January 2022

North Korea has launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan in its second launch of an IRBM this year.

Launched from Mupyong-ri, North Korea’s Jagang province, at 7:23 am on Tuesday, the ballistic missile flew about 4,600 km at a maximum altitude of about 1,000 km. Japan’s defense ministry said the missile flew over the Aomori prefecture and fell outside Japan’s EEZ, about 3,200 km east of Japan.

In addition to being the second launch of an IRBM this year, this is the sixth ballistic missile launch conducted by North Korea in just ten days.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) estimated that the missile flew 4,500 kilometers with an apogee of around 970 km. JCS also said the missile had a top speed of Mach 17.

The IRBM launched on Tuesday appears to be a Hwasong-12 IRBM, which was also tested in January this year. The latest launch is the first one to overfly Japan since 2017.

“We are aware of the DPRK’s ballistic missile launch today, including that it overflew Japan. We are consulting closely with Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), as well as other regional allies and partners, to address the threats posed by the DPRK,” the US Indo-Pacific command said in a statement.

“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from further unlawful and destabilizing acts. While we have assessed that this event does not pose a threat to US personnel, or territory, or to our allies, we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Japan defense ministry graphic of the IRBM trajectory

“North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threaten the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community. Such ballistic missile launches also violate relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Japan’s defense ministry said.

“In particular, the launch of ballistic missiles over Japan is extremely problematic from the perspective of ensuring the safety of not only aircraft and ships, but also the residents of areas where ballistic missiles are believed to have passed over Japan. Japan absolutely cannot accept this, and has lodged a strong protest against North Korea, condemning it in the strongest possible terms.”