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North Korea fires missile that could have hit the US mainland, Japan says
18 November 2022, 16:26
North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that had enough range to hit the US mainland, a Japanese minister has said.
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The missile was fired at 10:15 local time (2:15 in the morning UK time) from near Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
It reached a speed of mach 22 and travelled 621 miles, South Korea's military said, landing in the sea about 130 miles west of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The US condemned the missile launch, while South Korea said more deterrent measures should be brought in against its renegade northern neighbour.
North Korea warned of a "fierce" reaction if the US beefed up its military presence in the region.
Japanese defence minister Yasukasu Hamaza said the missile had the range to have reached the US on a different trajectory.
"Based on calculations taking the trajectory into account, the ballistic missile this time around could have had a range capability of 15,000km, depending on the weight of its warhead".
He added: "And if that's the case, it means the US mainland was within its range."
"We have told [the North Korean government] that we absolutely cannot tolerate such actions," Mr Kishida told reporters.
The launch is the latest in a slew of missile tests by North Korea in recent weeks.
But the country had halted weapons launches for about a week before it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday.
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It comes after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un backed his ally Vladimir Putin by secretly sending artillery shells to help the invasion of Ukraine.
The 38-year-old tyrant's government has hidden them in shipments that were disguised as if they were destined for the Middle East or North Africa.
The White House said: "In September, [North Korea] publicly denied that it intended to provide ammunition to Russia.
"However, our information indicates that [North Korea] is covertly supplying Russia's war in Ukraine with a significant number of artillery shells, while obfuscating the real destination of the arms shipments by trying to make it appear as though they are being sent to countries in the Middle East or North Africa.