A TV screen shows a news programme on North Korea's missile launch with file footage in Seoul. AP
The launches are the latest in a series of North Korean weapons tests in recent months that have raised tensions in the region. They came a day after Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles, the most it has fired in a single day ever.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the North firing an ICBM from an area near its capital Pyongyang around 7:40 a.m. and then firing two short-range missiles an hour later from the nearby city of Kacheon that flew toward its eastern waters.
The longer-range missile appeared to be fired on a high angle, possibly to avoid entering the territory of neighbors, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,920 kilometers (1,193 miles) and traveling around 760 kilometers (472 miles), according to South Korea’s military.
Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missiles are displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang. File/AFP
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the launch was successful.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada announced similar flight details but said that his military lost track of the weapon after it "disappeared” in skies above waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Choi Yong Soo, a South Korean Navy captain who handles public affairs for Seoul’s Defense Ministry, didn’t answer directly when asked whether the military believes the launch might have failed with the missile exploding in midair, saying that the test was still being analyzed.
Citing anonymous military sources, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the missile possibly failed to maintain normal flight following a stage separation.
The Japanese government initially feared the ICBM would fly over its northern territory but later adjusted its assessment. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the alerts were based on a trajectory analysis that indicated a flyover.
The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida broadcast alerts through television, radio, mobile phones and public loudspeakers to residents in the northern prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata, instructing them to go inside firm buildings or underground.
The early-morning launch came as the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss last week's test of what Pyongyang called a hypersonic missile, although Seoul has cast doubt on that claim.
The announcements made by state media agency KCNA came a day after North Korea blew up a joint liaison office set up in a border town as part of a 2018 peace agreement between the two countries' leaders.
The missiles were launched from the eastern coastal city of Wonsan and flew 240 km (149 miles) and reached 35 km in altitude, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. North Korea has launched a series of missiles from the area in the past.
North Korea restored dormant communication hotlines with South Korea in a small, fragile reconciliation step on Monday in an apparent hard push to win outside concessions with a mix of conciliatory gestures and missile tests.
These initiatives are designed to foster collaboration and facilitate meaningful discussions among police, security delegations, and organizational representatives. The ultimate goal is to generate recommendations and outcomes that align with the objectives of the World Police Summit.
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