North Korea fired a second missile over Japan far out into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, South Korean and Japanese officials said, deepening tension after Pyongyang’s recent test of its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb.
The UN Security Council was to meet later in the day to discuss the launch on the request of the U.S. and Japan, diplomats said.
The missile flew over Hokkaido in the north and landed in the Pacific about 2,000 kilometres (1,240 miles) to the east, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said.
The missile reached an altitude of about 770 kilometres (480 miles) and flew for about 19 minutes over about 3,700 kilometres (2,300 miles), according to South Korea’s military – far enough to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, which the North has threatened before.
On August 29, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, which travelled 2,700 kilometres (1,700 miles) over Japan.
“The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile,” the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement.
But it said the accuracy of the missile, still at an early stage of development, was low.
Warning announcements about the missile blared around 7 a.m. (2200 GMT Thursday) in parts of northern Japan, while many residents received alerts on their mobile phones or saw warnings on TV telling them to seek refuge.
U.S. Secretary of Defence, Jim Mattis said the launch “put millions of Japanese into duck and cover”, although residents of northern Japan appeared calm and went about their business as normal after the second such launch in less than a month.
The U.S. military said soon after the launch it had detected a single intermediate range ballistic missile but the missile did not pose a threat to North America or Guam, which lies 3,400 kilometres (2,110 miles) from North Korea.
U.S. officials repeated Washington’s “ironclad’’ commitments to the defence of its allies.
Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, called for “new measures” against North Korea and said the “continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation”.
A poll by Gallup Analytics suggested a majority of Americans appeared ready to support military action against North Korea, at least as a last resort.
Some 58 per cent said they would favour taking military action if economic and diplomatic efforts failed to achieve U.S. goals.
“This is significantly higher than the 47 per cent in favour the last time Gallup asked this, in 2003,” the group said.
South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, said dialogue with the North was impossible at this point.
He ordered officials to analyse and prepare for possible new North Korean threats, including electromagnetic pulse and biochemical attacks, a spokesman said.
Russia said the missile test was part of a series of unacceptable provocations and that the UN Security Council was united in believing such launches should not be taking place.
North Korea has launched dozens of missiles under young leader Kim Jong Un as it accelerates a weapons programme designed to give it the ability to target the U.S. with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile.
Two tests in July were for long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching at least parts of the U.S. mainland.