North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile (ICBM) from its eastern coastline. The incident indicates the country’s initiation of tests for its recently developed, more challenging-to-intercept weapon, expected to be capable of reaching United States military bases in the Western Pacific, including those stationed in Guam.
The launch was first reported by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) at around 3 p.m. local time on January 14, 2024. According to South Korean officials, the missile was fired from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. Unlike several attempts in the past, it did not fly over Japan. This time, it covered a distance of 621 miles (approximately 1,000 kilometers) before splashing into waters between North Korea and Japan, outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile launch as a clear provocation that seriously threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” South Korea’s military said in a statement.
The incident marks the most recent episode in a series of weapon tests conducted by Pyongyang. In November 2023, North Korea‘s state media outlet, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reported that the country had conducted successful ground-based tests of solid-fuel engines to power a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile. This missile is believed to be designed for targeting U.S. military bases in Okinawa, Japan, and the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
“The first ground jet tests of the first- and second-stage engines were very successful, and the reliability and stability of the already-established Korean-style high-thrust solid-fuel engine designing and manufacturing technologies were clearly verified once again,” the KCNA wrote on November 15, 2023.
The recent missile was fired ahead of North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui’s visit to Russia, scheduled for January 15, 2024.