North Korea has launched what is thought to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile to date, in a dramatic return to long-range testing that marks the regime's most serious provocation for years.
South Korea's military fired a missile barrage into the Sea of Japan in response to the ICBM launch, which was the first full-range test of Kim Jong-un's most powerful missiles since 2017 and suggested that the North has made significant progress in developing weapons capable of sending nuclear warheads anywhere in the US.
South Korea's outgoing president, Moon Jae-in, who has made engaging with North Korea a major goal of his administration, said the launch posed a serious threat to the Korean peninsula, the region and the international community and was a "clear violation" of UN security council resolutions.
Japanese authorities said the launch appeared to involve a "new type" of ICBM.
The missile has not been identified, but reports suggest it could be a Hwasong-17, a larger missile than North Korea’s last new ICBM, the Hwasong-15, which was test-fired in November 2017.
US and South Korean officials recently said that North Korea had been preparing to test-fire the Hwasong-17.
According to Japan and South Korea, the missile was fired from the Sunan area, near North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and travelled 1,080km (670 miles), reaching a maximum altitude of more than 6,200km.
It was airborne for 71 minutes and landed about 90 miles west of the Oshima peninsula on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island. There were no reports of damage to aircraft or vessels in the area.
The missile was apparently fired at a high angle to avoid reaching Japan’s territorial waters. No previous North Korean missile had flown for that long or reached that altitude, Japan’s defence ministry said.