North Korea has defended its right to take “tough counter-measures” in response to what it called US aggression, after firing a ballistic missile over Japan which sparked fear and fury in Tokyo.

 

The test launch by the nuclear-armed nation was seen as a major escalation that triggered global alarm and an angry response from the Japanese government.

 

Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, said it was an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat”.

 

The United Nations Security Council called an emergency meeting in Tokyo but North Korean Ambassador, Han Tae-Song, addressing the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said his country had the right to react to on-going US-South Korean military exercises.

 

“Now that the US has openly declared its hostile intention towards Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by raising joint aggressive military exercises despite repeated warnings… my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its rights to self-defence”.

 

Tae-Song also stated that Washington would be responsible for “the catastrophic consequences” that may result from heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

 

Sirens blared out and text messages were fired off across Northern Japan, warning people in the missile’s flight path to take cover. Meanwhile, trains were delayed as passengers were urged to seek shelter inside stations.

 

The last time a North Korean rocket overflew Japan was in 2009, when Pyongyang said it was a satellite launch.

 

It would be recalled that Pyongyang carried out two overt Intercontinental Ballistic Missile tests last month that appeared to bring much of the United States mainland (Guam) within reach for the first time.

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China, the North’s key ally and main trading partner, urged restraint on all sides saying that the US-South Korean military drills were partly to blame for heightening tension.

 

Responding to the test launch by North Korea over Japan, the United States President, Donald Trump warned today that “all options” remained under consideration

 

“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world”.

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