North Korea’s new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch reportedly came close to threatening a commercial airliner.
North Korea conducted a successful test of a powerful new ICBM Friday. Air France Flight 293, which was flying from Tokyo to Paris with 323 people onboard, passed through the testing area just 10 minutes before the missile splashed down, a U.S. official revealed to ABC News Tuesday. The commercial airliner flew through the area while the missile was in the air.
Air France said the flight operated “without any reported incident,” but some others might consider this too close for comfort. The ICBM came down near Hokkaido, Japan, just moments after the plane passed.
This is not the first time a North Korean missile fired without warning has threatened a passenger plane. A China Southern Airlines jet carrying over 200 passengers passed through a North Korean missile’s path only seven minutes after it was launched in 2014, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The rocket could have hit the plane on its way down. North Korea had not given any warning,” former South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at the time.
The Pentagon has already expressed concerns about Pyongyang’s tendency to launch missiles without warnings.
“The missile flew through busy airspace used by commercial airliners,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters after North Korea’s first ICBM launch early last month. “All of this completely uncoordinated … one of the many things we are not pleased with.”
He indicated that North Korea’s missiles pose threats to commercial aircraft, satellites, and fishing vessels, stressing that “responsible nations” coordinate such activities with the international community. The North is, however, forbidden from conducting ballistic missile tests, so it conducts its tests without prior notification to other countries. For instance, the U.S. is planning to conduct a Minuteman III ICBM test Wednesday, and the test was announced in advance.
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