WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC News) — North Korea on Friday fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japanese airspace before crashing into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and U.S. military officials said.
The ballistic missile was launched at 6:57 a.m. Friday Seoul time (5:57 p.m. Thursday ET) from the Sunan area of Pyongyang in an eastern direction nearly around 2,300 miles, and passed over Japanese airspace, a South Korean military official said.
The launch comes weeks after North Korea in late August fired a missile that traveled over Japanese airspace.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a televised address that the single missile launched Friday flew over Hokkaido. There are no reports of any objects falling in Japanese territory or any other damage, Suga said.
"We as a nation simply cannot accept these repeated provocative acts [by] North Korea and we have lodged our firm protest and while communicating the strong anger from the Japanese public. We expressed our condemnation using the strongest of terms," Suga said. He said the missile landed around 1,242 miles east of Cape Erimo.
U.S. Pacific Command also confirmed the launch and said it believes the missile launched Friday was an intermediate-range ballistic missile.
North Korea has conducted several ballistic missile tests this year in defiance of U.N. resolutions, including two intercontinental ballistic missile tests that experts said suggest a missile could reach parts of the United States. North Korea earlier this month conducted its sixth nuclear test.
The U.N. Security Council said it would meet to discuss North Korea in a closed session on Friday afternoon.
The news of the new launch came after three military officials told NBC News that North Korea may have be preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile in the coming days, defying sanctions imposed by the United Nations this week.
In the last 72 hours, U.S. intelligence has observed North Korea moving mobile missile launchers and preparing sites that have been used for previous launches, suggesting a possible test in the coming days, according to the officials, who requested anonymity.
The activity is a strong indication that North Korea’s ballistic missile program is proceeding on its internal schedule, and that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is unfazed by the international condemnation of country’s sixth nuclear test, conducted on Sept. 3.
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