By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – South Korea on Tuesday fired at least two “precision bombs” in response to North Korea’s missile launch earlier in the day.
An F-15K fighter jet “fired two JADAM precision bombs in response” to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, Yonhap News reported, citing a statement of the South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff.
Earlier, the Japan Defense Ministry said North Korea launched, what appears to be a ballistic missile, which could fly in the direction of Aomori and Hokkaido provinces in northern Japan, and warned people to seek shelter.
The ministry later stated that the missile had already fallen. The missile flew over Japan for the first time in five years.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile flew 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles), the longest distance ever for an intermediate-range or longer missile fired by North Korea, reaching an altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).
“The missile flew over Japan for around one minute and landed outside the country's exclusive economic zone some 3,200 km east of the nation in the Pacific Ocean,” Hamada said.
Tokyo said Pyongyang's latest missile "could have been a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile."
North Korea has fired four such missiles in the past, he said.
According to Japanese data, this was Pyongyang's seventh missile launch over Japan. Last time, it was Sept. 2017 when a North Korean missile flew above the Japanese landmass.
The country’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to hold a phone talk with US President Joe Biden on Tuesday night to discuss the issue.
Seoul also condemned the missile launch and warned Pyongyang of stronger sanctions and other consequences.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol presided over a National Security Council meeting and stated that North Korea's action is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
“It (North Korea missile) was in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation threatening the peace on the Korean Peninsula, in Northeast Asia and beyond,” he said.
Last Saturday, North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
North Korea's escalation of tensions is thought to be in response to a joint military drill by South Korea, the US and Japan in the East Sea.
North Korea declared itself a nuclear weapons state after passing the new law, authorizing its armed forces to use nuclear weapons if an attack with nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction was initiated or became imminent.
Tension on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border. Seoul has threatened a strong response if Pyongyang "further worsens the situation."
However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.