Seoul, Aug 29: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described as ‘unprecedented threat’ the missile fired by North Korea that missed the target and crashed into the sea off Japan’s Hokkaido island.
Abe and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha immediately approached the US allies and the UN Security Council called emergency session this afternoon. More sanctions are likely against North Korea but it is doubtful how effective they would be in pushing Pyongyang into a dialogue.
According to Asia News and other agencies, the South Korean Army said that the ballistic missile travelled for 2700 km, reaching a maximum height of 550 km, flew over Hokkaido island at 6 (local time) and fell at 1000 km from the Japanese coast after breaking into three pieces.
The missile appears to be of the Hwasong-12 type, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Joint military exercises between South Korean and US forces are currently underway in Hokkaido.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe commented that crossing Japan with the new missile poses “unprecedented, serious and important threat to security” and could “undermine peace and stability in the region.”
The launch has brought the Far East back to a situation of high tension. Over the past few weeks, after the launch of a missile by North Korea at the end of July, there was a war of words, with threats of attack between Pyongyang and Washington. But then everything seemed to quieten down.
Today’s launch prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to urgently contact their US ally. In a telephone conversation, the importance of further pressure on North Korea was emphasized, prompting it to dialogue.
A new UN Security Council emergency meeting was set for this afternoon. On August 5, the UN voted new and heavier sanctions against Pyongyang, who had found the full support of Russia and China, the great ally of the North. The sanctions aimed to block North Korean exports of coal, iron, and fish products.
According to a report by UN experts, Pyongyang manages to circumvent sanctions in a number of ways: putting false labels on exported goods; changing registrations of ships used, evading Chinese controls. Experts have identified several Southeast Asian countries as recipients of North Korean coal.
Over the past six months, two ships were intercepted between North Korea and Syria whose contents were unknown. According to sources in the UN dossier, their load was destined for a Syrian organization specialized in chemical weapons.