The ballistic missile North Korea test-fired over over the weekend is “not one we’ve seen before,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis acknowledged Wednesday, the latest ominous sign that the standoff with the reclusive regime over its banned missile and nuclear programs is reaching crisis proportions.
The launch was the first of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which can travel more than 5,500 kilometers, or more than 3,400 miles, Davis told reporters — far enough to threaten Hawaii or Alaska.
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The ICBM, which is designed to exit and re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, flew for 37 minutes on Tuesday, making it the country’s longest missile launch. The missile landed off the coast of Japan.
Davis said that because airspace and sea traffic weres not cleared for the unannounced weapons test, commercial planes and ships in the area were placed at risk.
“We strongly condemn this act by North Korea. It is escalatory, it is destabilizing, it is also dangerous,” he said. “This act demonstrates that North Korea poses a threat to the United States and our allies and we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal.”
In response to the North Korean test, the U.S. Army and South Korean troops fired two missiles into South Korea’s territorial waters in a hastily conducted military exercise. The Army used its Army Tactical Missile System and South Korea used its Hyunmoo Missile II, which can be deployed rapidly and provide “deep strike precision capability,” the U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement.
The United States, Japan and South Korea have convened an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council Wednesday at 3 p.m. in New York to address the North Korean actions.