North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan, reports say

SEOUL – North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday, according to a South Korea news agency.

Yonhap News Agency reports that the missile was fired from the vicinity of Sunan in Pyongyang just before 6 a.m. and flew east, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS said South Korean and the U.S. militaries are analyzing additional information, according to Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea has continued to test a variety of missiles, including a triple launch on Saturday.

The three missiles fired by Pyongyang in that test were short-range Scud missiles, Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday.

South Korea’s presidential office said on Saturday that officials initially believed North Korea could have fired 300mm rocket artillery from a multiple rocket launcher.

A South Korean official said US and South Korean authorities were continuing their analysis of Saturday’s launch, which saw two missiles travel 250 kilometers (155 miles) over the ocean and another explode shortly after liftoff.

Speculation of when North Korea would conduct another nuclear test has been rife this year, with it being pegged to various days important in North Korean history.

North Korea’s last nuclear test came in September, when it detonated what it claimed was a miniaturized nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on a missile, though analysts say the claim is nearly impossible to verify.

Kim Byung-kee, a lawmaker of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party (DP) said the NIS reported that North Korea “has completed its preparation to carry out a nuclear test at Tunnel 2 and Tunnel 3 of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”

He added the NIS said it had detected activity suggesting Tunnel 4 was being prepared for more construction work after excavation work was halted last year.

Speaking to CNN’s Will Ripley Monday, North Korean officials said the US faces strong punishment for conducting its current US-South Korea military games on the peninsula.

The 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises, which began August 21, are conducted annually and touted by South Korea and the United States as defensive in nature.

But North Korean officials told Ripley this year’s exercises come at the “worst possible moment” of tension.

If there is an escalation, with any “catastrophic consequences, the Americans would be wholly responsible,” the officials said.

The country has fired 20 missiles during 13 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.

On July 4, North Korea conducted its first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it claims could reach “anywhere in the world.”

Of the missiles tested before that, one was intermediate-range, two were medium-range, eight were either short-range or medium-range and the range of one is unknown, according to various North Korea watchers. Four fired on June 8 were believed to be surface-to-ship cruise missiles. The US detected a ballistic missile launch on Friday; the type was not immediately known.