North Korea launched another ballistic missile over Japan today, defying the threat of economic sanctions and further international isolation as the rogue state marches toward becoming a global nuclear threat.
“This launch, or any provocation from North Korea, should not shock us anymore,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies for the Center for the National Interest. “Kim Jong Un, despite years of sanctions and international pressure, seems committed to the goal of developing a full-fledged nuclear weapons program—and is willing to take increasingly dangerous steps to achieve his objective.”
Intelligence analysts said the launches are likely going to be a continuing occurrence as Pyongyang attempts to bolster its status as a nuclear power.
“They’re pretty close to getting their credible deterrent,” said Evan Rees, East Asia analyst with Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm. “I see them moving forward with testing ICBMs over Japan as well. We’re seeing it pretty regularly. One of the signals they’re sending is: This is going to be the norm.”
South Korea’s military said North Korea fired an unidentified missile today from its capital Pyongyang that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before landing in the north Pacific. It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close U.S. ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on Sept. 3. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile traveled about 2,300 miles while reaching a maximum height of 478 miles.
The missile was launched from Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport. North Korea last month used the airport to fire a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile that flew over northern Japan.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denounced North Korea’s latest launch, saying he was conveying “strong anger” on behalf of the Japanese people. Suga said Japan “will not tolerate the repeated and excessive provocations.”
Rees said that, as provocative as firing a missile over a neighboring country may appear, North Korea has picked the least threatening flight path available. North Korea is largely surrounded by Chinese, Russian and South Korean territory. The only other open ocean paths would put a missile either over more heavily populated Japanese territory, or send one toward Taiwan and Guam, which could be seen as more…