North Korea has fired a ballistic missile directly over Japan.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson branded the launch ‘reckless’ and called on China and Russia to take ‘direct action’ against Kim Jong-un, while Seoul responded to the test by launching the missiles of its own.
The test sparked panic in Japan, where residents were immediately told to take shelter as the missile passed directly overhead – the second time Pyongyang has done so in the past few weeks.
It flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan and fell into the Pacific Ocean, sparking a nationwide alert.
South Korea said the missile probably reached an altitude of 770km and travelled 3,700km and called an urgent National Security Council meeting.
The North’s launch comes a day after it threatened to sink Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions against it for its nuclear test on September 3.
The severe sanctions include limits on imports of crude oil and a ban on exports of textiles – which is the country’s second biggest export, worth more than $700m a year.
The North previously launched a ballistic missile from Sunan on August 29, which flew over Japan’s Hokkaido island and landed in the Pacific waters.
Earlier on Thursday, the totalitarian state risked the ire of the international community once more, after threatening to sink Japan with a nuclear bomb.
The latest threat, which did nothing to lessen tensions in the Pacific, came in a statement issued by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
‘Japan is no longer needed to exist near us’, the statement read.
‘The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche.’
Responding to the latest threat, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described it as ‘extremely provocative.’
‘If North Korea stays the course that it is on, it will increasingly become isolated from the world’, Suga stated at a press conference in Tokyo.
’Through implementing the new United Nations Security Council resolution and related agreements, the international community as a whole needs to maximise pressure on North Korea so that it will change its policy.’
The statement also threatened the United States, calling for it to be reduced to “ashes and darkness”.
“Let’s vent our spite with mobilisation of all retaliation means which have been prepared till now,” the statement said.
The shadowy hermit state also threatened to attack Guam, the U.S. controlled island in the middle of the pacific.