The missile North Korea fired early today over Japan was an intermediate range ballistic missile and did not threaten the US, the Pentagon said today. The ballistic missile flew over Japan before crashing into the northern Pacific Ocean, the third time a missile fired by Pyongyang has passed over the Japanese territory. The first was in 1998 and the second in 2009, although North Korea claims they were satellites. The Pentagon said the Department of Defence tracked what they assess was a “single North Korean ballistic missile”. “Initial assessment indicates the launch of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM),” it said. An IRBM has a range of 3,000–5,500 km. The missile launched today was believed to have travelled nearly 2,700 kilometres at a maximum altitude of around 550 kilometres. The Pentagon said the North American Aerospace Defence Command determined the ballistic missile launch did not pose a threat to North America. The US Pacific Command determined the missile launch did not pose a threat to Guam. “We continue to monitor North Korea’s actions closely,” it said. “We will provide a public update if warranted.”
Tensions have been high in the Korean peninsula, where the US and Japan have been conducting joint military exercise. North Korea views the exercise as a preparation for invasion. Following today’s missile launch, US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang that “all options are on the table”. His administration has been pursuing what it calls a strategy of “peaceful pressure” to rein in the North’s nuclear and missile weapons programmes.