WORLD

North Korea Fires Missile Which Passes Over Japan

Japan's national broadcaster warned people to take precautions.

29/08/2017 7:24 AM AEST | Updated 29/08/2017 11:41 AM AEST
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A North Korea Scud-B missile displayed at the Korea War Memorial Museum.

TOKYO/SEOUL, Aug 29 (Reuters) - North Korea fired a missile early on Tuesday from near Pyongyang that flew over northern Japan, the South Korean and Japanese governments said.

South Korea's military said the projectile was fired from the Sunan region near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang just before 6 a.m. (2100 GMT Monday) and public broadcaster NHK reported that it broke into three pieces and fell in waters 1000 kilometres to the east of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

The Japanese government's J-Alert warning system advised people in the area to take precautions.

The Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile, which passed over Japanese territory around 6:06 a.m. time (2106 GMT) after flying about 2,700 km (1,677 miles) and reaching an altitude of about 550 km.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned North Korea's latest missile test in the "strongest terms," saying the rogue state is committing "one reckless provocation after another" and needs to be "brought to its senses".

"The North Korean regime continues recklessly to threaten the peace and stability of the region and indeed of the world," Turnbull told Adelaide radio 5AA.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop called the launch a serious escalation in North Korea's "provocative behaviour".

Bishop said the regime was acting illegally and described firing a missile over the territory of another nation as "threatening, dangerous and provocative".

The Prime Minister has had a security briefing on Tuesday morning over the launch and Cabinet and its national security committee will also consider the threat later in the day.

"We call on all nations to impose the harshest sanctions as stipulated by the (UN) Security Council against North Korea. And in particular, it is vitally important that China plays its part," Turnbull urged.

"China has the greatest economic leverage and they have the ability to bring North Korea to its senses without military action and they should use that economic leverage to so do."

Labor's Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong has also condemned the test.

"It is a highly provocative, unlawful action by North Korea and again demonstrating that they are a threat to regional peace, regional stability and in fact global peace and stability," she told ABC radio.

The top U.S. and South Korean military officers have now agreed to make a strong response to North Korea's latest ballistic missile launch, including possible unspecified military measures, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.

The chairmen of both countries' Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed on a phone call "to take response measures at the earliest possible time that can demonstrate the alliance's strong will including military measures," Yonhap reported, quoting the South Korean military.

The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul could not be reached immediately for confirmation. A South Korean defense ministry official said there was no immediate plan to change joint military drills being conducted by the South Korean and U.S. militaries.

The last North Korean projectile to fly over Japan was in 2009. The United States, Japan and South Korea considered that launch to have been a ballistic missile test while North Korea said it was a rocket carrying a communications satellite into orbit.

Tensions had eased between North Korea and the United States after weeks of threats.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government had protested the move in the strongest terms.

"It is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation," Suga told a briefing.

Suga said the launch was a clear violation of United Nations resolutions and Japan will work closely with the United States, South Korea and other concerned nations on a response, he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to fire missiles into the sea near the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and U.S. President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States.

(Reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul and William Mallard in Tokyo, editing by G Crosse and Grant McCool)

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