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North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan for second time in three weeks

North Korea fired an unidentified missile eastwards over Japan on Friday, Seoul and Tokyo said. The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) imposed an eighth set of sanctions on the country over its banned missile and nuclear programmes.

That was in response to its sixth nuclear test — by far its largest yet — earlier this month, which Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile. The North has raised tensions in the region with its rapid progress in weapons technology under leader Kim Jong-Un, who is closely associated with the programme and regularly pictured by state media overseeing launches and visiting facilities.

Its last missile launch, a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile just over two weeks ago, also overflew Japan — its first to do so for years — sparking emergency sirens and text alerts, before coming down in the Pacific Ocean. Today’s missile flew over Hokkaido in northern Japan “at around 07:06 am (local time) towards the Pacific Ocean”, Japan’s J-Alert system said, with reports saying it came down around 2,000 kilometres east of Hokkaido.

Seoul’s defence ministry said it probably travelled around 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum altitude of 770 kilometres — both higher and further than the previous device. It was fired from a similar location near the capital’s airport, it added.

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