US Fires Back At North Korea For ‘Destabilizing’ Missile Launch

(Photo by South Korean Defense Ministry via Getty Images)

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The White House condemned North Korea’s most powerful missile launch in months on Tuesday as “destabilizing” and in violation of international norms.

U.S. and Japanese warplanes conducted joint bombing drills in response North Korea’s firing of an intermediate or long-range ballistic missile over Japan Monday in its longest-ever flight test, according to The Associated Press. The launch follows a recent escalation in North Korean belligerence, as the communist country has tested five missiles in the days surrounding U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’ travel to South Korea and the demilitarized border zone last week. (RELATED: Kamala Says US Has ‘Strong And Enduring’ Alliance With The ‘Republic Of North Korea’ During DMZ Visit)

“The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement Tuesday.

Japan’s defense ministry issued a notice Monday around 7:30 a.m. local time warning that North Korea launched a “probable” ballistic missile. Authorities encouraged citizens to seek shelter in the first alert of its kind since Pyongyang launched an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 in 2017, the AP reported.

Initial reports suggested the missile flew 4,600 km at a speed of Mach 17, crossing over Japan and landing outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone roughly 3,200 km from the northern coast. The distances demonstrating North Korean missiles could reach the U.S. military base in Guam, according to the AP.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch a “reckless act,” while South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol threatened a forceful response to Pyongyang’s “reckless nuclear provocations,” the AP reported.

The State Department initially called the launch “unfortunate,” Voice of America reported.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin held a phone call with Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada Tuesday, where the ministers vowed further cooperation between U.S., Japanese and South Korean forces for deterrence and responses to future North Korean aggression. Austin reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to extend its nuclear umbrella over Japan.

In turn, Hamada called the “outrageous” launch a “grave and imminent threat” to Japan and “absolutely unacceptable.” Japan would respond with  further revamping its defense capabilities, including by bringing counterstrike options to the table.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also spoke with national security counterparts in Japan and South Korea to discuss “appropriate and robust” responses from the U.S. and the international community, according to Watson.

The U.S. conducted a pair of military drills last week, one with Seoul on Sept. 26 and another involving both Seoul and Tokyo militaries on Sept. 30, the AP reported.

North Korea has tested a record 40 missiles so far in 2022, according to the AP.

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