North Korea on Thursday fired a "new type" of ballistic missile, possibly solid-fuelled according to the South Korean military, which would mark a major technological and strategic advance for Pyongyang's weapons program.
This shot triggered a brief alert in the Japanese island of Hokkaido, before Japan clarified that the projectile had not hit its territory.
"North Korea appears to have launched a new type of ballistic missile, possibly solid-fuelled," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP.
All intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) launched so far by North Korea have been liquid fueled. But solid-fuel missiles, which Pyongyang has long sought to develop, are more stable and quicker to prepare for launch than liquid-fuel ones, which can make it more difficult for US forces to detect and destroy them.
At a military parade in Pyongyang in February, North Korea showed off a record number of missiles, including what analysts believe is a new solid-propellant ICBM.
Launched Thursday at 7:23 a.m. (2223 GMT), the missile followed a lobed trajectory and "travelled 1,000 km before landing in the East Sea", the Korean name for the Sea of Japan, the South-Eastern army said. Korean.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Pyongyang to "reopen communication channels and resume dialogue" in favor of peace and full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, in a statement condemning the launch.
In Paris, Anne-Claire Legendre, spokesperson for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for "a firm and united response from the international community".
"This launch constitutes a shameless violation of several United Nations Security Council resolutions, unnecessarily increases tensions and risks destabilizing security in the region", denounced in a press release Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council of the United Nations. the American presidency.
"The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of American homeland and its allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan," she added.
Beijing, for its part, condemned the "negative" role of Washington, deemed responsible for the renewed tension in the peninsula.
"The negative impact of the previous US military exercise and the deployment of strategic weapons around the (Korean) peninsula is obvious to all," Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy, told reporters. calling on all parties to "remain calm and exercise restraint".
The shooting is being analyzed, according to the South Korean staff.
It came as two meetings of the G7 countries are scheduled for the next few days in Japan: a meeting of environment ministers in Hokkaido on Saturday and Sunday, and one of foreign ministers on Sunday and Monday in Karuizawa (center), before the G7 summit scheduled for May in Hiroshima.
On Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for increasing his country's deterrence capabilities to counter "the escalation of maneuvers by US imperialists and treacherous South Korean puppets to unleash a war of aggression" , according to the official KCNA news agency.
Since March 23, Pyongyang has claimed to have carried out three tests of an "underwater nuclear attack drone" capable of "producing a large-scale radioactive tsunami". These craft are known as "Haeil", which means tsunami in Korean.
The regime also said it launched an ICBM on March 16.
Last year, North Korea declared itself an "irreversible" nuclear power, thus burying any possibility of negotiation on its denuclearization.
Also in March, Kim Jong Un ordered his troops to intensify their exercises for "real war". Washington and Seoul responded with new joint military maneuvers, involving US stealth aircraft.
Pyongyang sees the exercises as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory and on Tuesday called them "hysterical", "simulating an all-out war against" North Korea.
On Tuesday, South Korea accused Pyongyang of being "irresponsible" after it cut off communications with Seoul last week.
The North and South militaries communicate twice a day through a specific line, but North Korea has not answered calls since April 7, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.
“Kim Jong-un has not yet finished demonstrating his nuclear launch capabilities,” analyzes Leif-Eric Easley, professor at Ewha University in Seoul.
And "as the North Koreans literally no longer answer the phone, the absence (...) of diplomacy increases the risk of an involuntary escalation".
13/04/2023 19:19:50 - Seoul (AFP) © 2023 AFP