North Korea test-fired on Friday its second intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew longer and higher than its first ICBM launched earlier this month, officials said.
“We assess that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile, as had been expected,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in Washington.
The missile was launched on very high trajectory, which limited the distance it traveled, and landed west of Japan’s island of Hokkaido.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it a “serious and real threat” to the country’s security. North Korea’s development of ICBM technology is a major step toward its goal of developing nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching as far as the United States.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the missile, launched late Friday night, flew for about 45 minutes — about five minutes longer than the ICBM North Korea test-fired on July 4. He said Japan has lodged a strong protest with North Korea.
“North Korea’s repeated provocative acts absolutely cannot be accepted,” he said.
Prime Minister Abe said Japan would cooperate closely with the U.S., South Korea and other nations to step up pressure on North Korea to halt its missile programs.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile reached an estimated height of 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) before landing at sea about 1,000 kilometers (625 miles) away. It appeared to be more advanced than the ICBM North Korea previously launched, it said.
The “Hwasong 14” ICBM test-fired earlier this month was also launched at a very steep angle, a technique called lofting, and reached a height of more than 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) before splashing down in the ocean 930 kilometers (580 miles) away. Analysts said that missile could be capable of reaching most of Alaska or possibly Hawaii if fired in an attacking trajectory.
Jeffrey Lewis, a missile and nonproliferation expert with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies,…