People watching a news relay saw a video footage of a missile launched by North Korea at a Railway station in Seoul on August 29, 2017. A ballistic missile was fired over Japan by North Korea into the Pacific Ocean on August 29, in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its weapons ambitions.

 

North Korea fired a Nuclear-armed ballistic missile over Japan, on Tuesday in a major escalation that triggered global alarm and a livid response from the Tokyo government.

 

An unsettled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat”, while the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting at Tokyo and Washington’s request.

 

Sirens blared out and text messages were sent off across northern Japan warning people in the missile’s flight path to take cover.

 

As passenger sought shelter inside the station, Trains were delayed.

 

“All lines are experiencing disruption”, said one sign on Sapporo’s metro system. “Reasons: Ballistic Missile launch”.

2009 was the last time North Korean Rocket overflew Japan, when Pyongyang said it was a satellite launch. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo believed it was a clandestine test of an international ballistic missile [ICMB].

 

Pyongyang last month carried out two open ICMB tests that appeared to bring much of the US mainland within reach for the first time and heightened strains in the region.

 

US President Donald Trump at the time issued an apocalyptic warning of raining “fire and fury” on the North, while Pyongyang threatened to fire a salvo of missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

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South Korea said the latest missile was launched from Sunan, near Pyongyang and flew around 2,700 kilometers [1,700 miles] at a maximum altitude of around 550 kilometers.

 

Gwuam is about 3,500 kilometers from North Korea -although the missile was fired in an easterly direction and not towards the US outpost, home to 160,000 people and host to major military facilities.

 

Abe said the overflight was an “outrageous act” that “greatly damages regional peace and security”.

 

In a 40-minutes telephone call with Trump he said the two allies had agreed to “further strengthen the pressure against North Korea”.

 

Robert Wood, US Permanent Representative to the conference on Disarmament at the UN in Geneva labelled it “another provocation that was a big concern”

 

But China, the North’s key ally and main trading partner, urged restraint on all sides, with Foreign Ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying saying the situation had reached a “tipping point” but warning pressure and sanctions, cannot fundamentally solve the issue.

 

Any launch towards Gwam would have to pass over Japan first an analysts said. Tuesday’s overflight presents a major challenge to both Tokyo and Washington.

 

Before 2009, the only time North Korea had traversed Japanese airspace was in 1998, in what it also claimed was a space launch. The US said it was Taepodong-1 missile.

 

Pyoungyang says it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself, against US, and that the firing comes during the Annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian South Korean-US joint military exercise which the North always condemns as rehearsals for invasion.

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Euan Graham, of the Lowy Institute in Australia , said that a launch towards Guam would have been a “red line” for Washington, and instead Pyongyang selected a “half-way-house option”

 

“The North Korean in a way are clever, by asking a difficult question of a key ally in the western Pacific [Japan] but at the same time not ratcheting up tensions to the point where the United States would seriously consider military measures”, he told AFP.

 

They were also “demonstrating they have the control over the cycle of escalation”, he added.

 

Trump told a rally in Phoenix that Kim was “starting to respect us” after Pyongyang appeared to postpone the Guam Scheme.

 

As a result, according to Cha Du-Hyeogn of the Asian Institute of Policy Studies, “It looked like North Korea backed off from a game of chicken”.

 

“But Pyongyang is showing that is not how it is” he said. “That is not a chicken , it has not backed off and that Washington is the one who is bluffing with no concrete plan”.

 

In the past, Japan has vowed to shoot down North Korean missiles or rockets that threaten to hit its territory.

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