February 25, 2024

North Korea fired a suspected long-range missile on Friday, South Korea’s military said, a day after the North resumed its testing activities in an apparent protest over U.S. moves to solidify its alliances with South Korea and Japan.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected a ballistic missile launch off the North’s eastern coast on Friday morning. It later said the missile launched is likely an intercontinental ballistic missile.

A “seek cover order” for the Misawa Air Base in northern Japan was issued as a “precautionary measure” by the commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, the U.S. base said in a statement posted to Facebook. The order was lifted at 10:55 a.m. local time Friday.

“At this time, there are no additional indications or warnings of an immediate threat to Misawa Air Base,” the statement read.

Japan’s prime minister’s office also said it detected a possible ballistic missile launch by North Korea.  

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea's missile
A TV screen shows a file image of a North Korea missile launch during a news program being watched at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Nov. 17, 2022. North Korea fired one short-range ballistic missile into the East Sea that day. 

Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

If confirmed, it would be North Korea’s first ICBM launch in about two weeks. Outside experts said that an ICBM launched by North Korea on Nov. 3 failed to fly its intended flight.

The Nov. 3 test was believed to have involved a new type of developmental ICBM. North Korea has two other types of ICBM — Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 and their test-launches in 2017 proved they could potentially reach parts of the U.S. homeland.

The launch is the latest in a slew of missile tests by North Korea in recent weeks. But the country had halted weapons launches for about a week before it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday.

Before Thursday’s launch, the North’s foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, threatened to launch “fiercer” military responses to the U.S. bolstering its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.

Choe was referring to U.S. President Joe Biden’s recent trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Cambodia. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence. Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear arms.

Choe didn’t say what steps North Korea could take but said that “the U.S. will be well aware that it is gambling, for which it will certainly regret.”

In late October, U.S. and South Korean officials confirmed to CBS News that North Korea is preparing to test an atomic weapon soon, in what would be its first nuclear test since 2017.    

The North has argued a U.S. military presence in the region as proof of its hostility toward the country. It has said its recent series of weapons launches were response to what it called provocative military drills between the United States and South Korea.

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