Seoul: N Korea fires suspected ICBM and 2 other missiles
North Korea test-launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile and two shorter-range weapons toward its eastern waters Wednesday, South Korea said, hours after President Joe Biden ended a trip to Asia where he reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend its allies in the face of the North's nuclear threat.
The suspected ICBM didn't fly its full range. But if confirmed, it would still be North Korea's first test of an ICBM system in about two months amid stalled nuclear diplomacy with the United States. The launch suggests North Korea is determined to continue its efforts to modernize its weapons arsenal despite its first COVID-19 outbreak, which has caused outside worries about a humanitarian disaster.
"North Korea's sustained provocations can only result in stronger and faster South Korea-U.S. combined deterrence and can only deepen North Korea's international isolation," the South Korean government said in a statement after an emergency security meeting.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called the launches "an act of provocation and absolutely impermissible." The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command earlier said the missile launches highlight "the destabilizing impact of (North Korea's) illicit weapons program" though they didn't pose an immediate threat to U.S. territory and its allies.
According to South Korea's military, the three missiles lifted off from the North's capital region one after another on Wednesday morning.