North Korean Missile Launch Strikes Fear

A North Korean missile test-fired over Japan has left world leaders outraged, concerned and fearful of military escalation.

The missile was launched early Tuesday and flew over Japan’s Hokkaido island before crashing into the Pacific Ocean. It’s the first time that North Korea has admitted to firing a ballistic weapon over Japan.

Residents of Hokkaido were awakened by sirens and alerts to urgently take cover.

World leaders have widely condemned the incident. Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has called the act “unprecedented, serious and a grave threat”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that it is a “reckless provocation”, while United States President Donald Trump called the launch “threatening”, “destabilising”, and said that “all options are on the table” in terms of retaliation.

According to a South Korean presidential spokesman, both Japan and South Korea now believe that “pressure on North Korea should be raised to its limit so that North Korea will voluntarily come to the table for dialogue”.

South Korea responded by holding live-fire drills, simulating the bombing of North Korea’s leaders.

North Korea has repeatedly conducted missile launches in recent months, against the United Nations’ rules. The United Nations has called the latest incident “outrageous” and has demanded that North Korea stop its weapons programme.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was reportedly “very satisfied with the performance of the missile”.

According to North Korean state media, the test-fire was “the first step of military operation in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam”.

Trump and Kim have recently been hurling threats regarding Guam, a US territory and naval base in the Pacific. It appeared that North Korea had backed down after Trump warned Kim that “fire and fury” would follow, but North Korea’s latest move shows that this is not the case.

North Korea’s military escalation brings with it the threat of nuclear war. According to the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, this is the first launch of a missile powerful enough to potentially carry a nuclear warhead.