Seoul, South Korea: North Korea on Thursday conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile launch in a month, possibly testing a new type of more mobile, harder-to-detect weapons system, its neighbors Japan and South Korea said. This was an extension of North Korea’s ongoing provocative run of missile tests.
The launch prompted Japan to issue an evacuation order on a northern island, and though it was later retracted, it shows the vigilance of North Korea’s neighbors over its evolving missile threats.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile launched on a high angle from near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang and fell in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan following a 620-mile flight.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff described the missile as having a medium or longer range. The United States National Security Council called it a long-range missile and Japan’s defense minister an ICBM-class weapon.
South Korea’s military believes North Korea launched a new type of ballistic missile, possibly using solid fuel, a defense official said under anonymity because of office rules.
If the launch involved a solid-fuel ICBM, it would be the North’s first test of such a weapon. North Korea’s known ICBMs all use liquid propellant systems that require them to be fueled before launches. But the fuel in a solid propellant weapon is already loaded inside, allowing them to be moved more easily and fired more quickly.