The Slatest

North Korea Launches Four Missiles, Rattling Japan

This undated photo released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 11 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a combat drill.

KNS/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea launched four missiles Monday morning in tests that coincided with joint military exercises being carried out by the United States and South Korea. From the Washington Post:

The four missiles were fired from a known launch site on North Korea’s west coast, not far from the border with China, at 7:36 a.m. local time. They flew more than 600 miles across the country before splashing into the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message to local reporters.

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The joint chiefs initially suspected that at least one of the projectiles might have been an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States’ West Coast, but later backed away from that analysis. A U.S. defense official said the Pentagon does not think the missile was an ICBM.

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The tests follow a February missile test and a January address from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in which he stated that North Korea would continue working toward a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

The U.S. is not the only country North Korea is attempting to threaten. The New York Times reports on how Japan is viewing this latest provocation:

In Japan, analysts said the launches suggested that North Korea could pose a more serious threat than indicated by previous tests.

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“That would mean a lot in terms of the defense of Tokyo, because North Korea might have been conducting a simulation of a ‘saturation attack’ in which they launch a number of missiles simultaneously in order to saturate the missile defense that Japan has,” said Narushige Michishita, director of the Security and International Studies Program at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. “It would be difficult for Japan to shoot down four missiles all at the same time because of our limited missile defense.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the launches “clearly represent a new threat from North Korea.”

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