TOKYO: Japan’s defense minister said Friday he believed North Korea “has Guam in mind” after its most recent missile launch, noting it had sufficient range to hit the US territory.
Pyongyang has threatened the US Pacific territory with “enveloping fire,” sparking dire warnings from US President Donald Trump.
Itsunori Onodera told reporters that Friday’s missile, which overflew Japanese territory, flew 3,700 kilometers—”long enough to cover Guam”, which is 3,400 kilometers (2,100 miles) from North Korea.
“We cannot assume North Korea’s intention, but given what it has said, I think it has Guam in mind,” Onodera said.
He warned that “similar actions” by the North would continue as Pyongyang appeared to have shrugged off UN sanctions agreed earlier this week.
The US Pacific Command confirmed the launch was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) but said it posed no threat to Guam or to the American mainland.
It was “the furthest overground any of their ballistic missiles has ever traveled,” Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter.
For the second time in less than a month, it overflew Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, sparking loudspeaker alerts and warnings to citizens to take cover.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could “never tolerate” what he called a “dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace.”
Onodera said the Japanese military had “tracked the missile from the very start of the launch until it fell in the water, and we judged there was no such need” to shoot down the missile because it was not likely to enter Japanese territory.