Japan says North Korea fired ballistic missile that could cover 'entire' United States

This undated file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency shows a North Korean missile launch. File Photo by EPA-EFE/Yonhap
This undated file photo released by the Korean Central News Agency shows a North Korean missile launch. File Photo by EPA-EFE/Yonhap

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States is "prepared to engage" with North Korea after the country fired a long-range ballistic missile on Saturday.

"We've made clear over many, many months that we were prepared to engage with North Korea without any preconditions," Blinken said.


"The response from North Korea has been missile launch after missile launch. We have been very clear that our commitment to the security of our close allies and partners -- South Korea and Japan -- is ironclad."

Blinken's comments came during a press conference with Japan's Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa and South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin.

He added that the three countries have been working "very closely together" to take appropriate steps to "strengthen even more our deterrence and defense capacity."

Yoshimasa said that the intercontinental ballistic missile launched by North Korea landed in the territorial waters of Japan and could cover the entire United States.

"Such act is absolutely unacceptable. It is a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolutions, and the international community must be united and take resolute response," Yoshimasa said during the news conference.


Park added that the three countries are showing "unwavering resolve" in the face of an escalating threat from North Korea.

"Pyongyang will gain nothing from its provocations," Park said. "We urge Pyongyang to immediately cease all provocations and return to denuclearization talks."

North Korea responded to the press conference held by the three nations in a statement Sunday, and acknowledged that it had fired the ICBM. North Korea claimed that the missile landed in "open waters."

Japan's Defense Minster Yasukazu Hamada said the missile was fired from the outskirts of Pyongyang before landing in the Sea of Japan, the first of its kind since Jan. 1 when a North Korean ballistic missile landed outside of the Japanese Economic Exclusion Zone.

"The launch this time around is an outrageous act that escalates provocations against the international community," Japanese Prime Minister Kishidi told reporters.

Hamada said he believes the missile could have a range of 8,699 miles, which poses problems for Japan's allies as it means such missiles are capable of reaching the entirety of the continental United States.

The South Korean military also took note of the launch.

The country's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch was detected at 5:22 p.m. on Saturday.


"While strengthening its monitoring and vigilance, our military is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States," the military leaders told the Yonhap news agency.

North Korea issued a threat on Friday, saying the United States and South Korea would face an "unprecedentedly and persistent and strong" response if the two nations conduct scheduled joint military exercises.

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