North Korea fired what is suspected to be a new model of ballistic missile on Thursday, triggering an evacuation order in Japan where residents were told to take cover.
The decree on a northern island was later retracted, but it shows the vigilance of close neighbours over Pyongyang’s evolving missile threats.
South Korea’s military called the launch a ‘grave provocation’, and said the missile flew around 1,000km and fell in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called a National Security Council meeting in response to the test-fire.
Warning sirens blared after an evacuation alert was briefly imposed on Hokkaido Island.
Speaking to Japanese broadcaster NHK, a student there said it caused momentary alarm before it became clear there was no threat.
A South Korean military official said the test apparently involved a new weapons system displayed at a recent North Korean military parades.
An official said the test apparently involved a new weapons system displayed at a recent North Korean military parades.
The military was analysing the projectile’s trajectory and range, and the defence ministry said it could have been a solid-fuel missile.
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.
A solid-propellant ICBM is one of the key high-tech weapons that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has vowed to build to better cope with what he calls US military threats.
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