North Korea: ‘Japan missile was first step in Pacific operation’

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North Korea said Wednesday that the missile it launched over Japan on Tuesday was an intermediate-range Hwasong-12. More such drills are in store for the U.S. and its allies, the North said.

The nuclear-armed North sent the missile flying over Hokkaido on Tuesday morning, the first unannounced launch over Japan of a missile designed to carry a nuclear payload. It flew more than 2,700 km before plunging into the Pacific Ocean about 1,180 km east of Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo.

The United Nations Security Council denounced the launch, unanimously demanding that Pyongyang halt its missile and nuclear programs.

But the North said the missile drills would continue — possibly including more over flights of Japan.

It also prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to reiterate his stance that “all options” — an allusion to military action — remain on the table for reining in the isolated country.

The missile “crossed the sky above Oshima peninsula of Hokkaido and Cape Erimo of Japan along the preset flight track and accurately hit the preset target waters in northern Pacific.

The North had not acknowledged previous missile and rocket launches that overflew Japan, even taking pains to avoid doing so by sending shorter-range missiles into the Sea of Japan or “lofting” its test-firings on a steep trajectory.

The launch drill, the report added, had been in response to the annual joint U.S.-South Korean war games known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, which Pyongyang views as a rehearsal for invasion. The U.S. and South Korea insist the exercises, mostly computerized, are purely defensive. They were due to wrap up Thursday.

Kim was quoted as calling the exercise the North Korean military’s “first step” toward operations in the Pacific “and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam” under a “real war” scenario.