Early warning US military systems warned that a North Korean missile launched earlier this week could hit the California coast or the Aleutian Islands, according to a US media report.
On Tuesday morning, North Korea launched a missile that initial range readings from the United States suggested could hit the country, but actually landed in the sea between Japan and China.
Two sources close to the issue told CNN on Sunday they believe the North Korean missile was designed to avoid missile defenses and resembled a hypersonic glide.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded a number of combatants on the West Coast on Monday afternoon (local time) as the missile launched.
However, later the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined that these initial readings were incorrect.
“As a precaution, FAA has temporarily suspended departures at some west coast airports on Monday night. Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all of these events,” the FAA said in a statement.
A US member of Congress who was briefed on the events said military officials did not immediately “get a good idea” of the North Korean missile’s capabilities and called the situation “ugly”.
“NORAD has followed the procedures established to collect information and coordinate with other military commands, allies and security partners. NORAD has determined that there is no credible threat and therefore has not issued a missile threat warning against Canada or the United States,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. , in a press release.
“NORAD is committed to working closely with our interagency partners to ensure they understand normal process and procedures. We refer to the FAA statement that they initiated a ground shutdown of Less than 15 minutes as a precaution and examine the process for their decision, “he said. continued.
On Friday, North Korea shot two other ballistic missiles, which South Korea has detected.
North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said on Saturday that the tests were held to “verify and judge proficiency in the railway regiment’s action procedures”.
KCNA said Friday’s launches “demonstrated high maneuverability and success rate,” adding that “issues were discussed to establish a proper rail missile operating system across the country.”
South Korea’s military said on Friday it had detected what it suspected were two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) launched eastward from North Pyongan province on North Korea’s west coast. , near the border with China.
The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described the North Korean missile tests of “deeply destabilizing”.
“We are very focused with our allies and partners to make sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea,” Blinken said in an interview with MSNBC. .
The administration of US President Joe Biden imposed its first sanctions on Wednesday. Washington also called on the United Nations Security Council to take action against several North Korean individuals and entities accused of violating resolutions banning North Korea’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons.
A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the new sanctions underscore hostile US intent to “isolate and stifle” the North despite Washington’s repeated calls for Pyongyang to resume diplomacy.
“The United States intentionally escalates the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not merely referring the DPRK’s rightful activity to the UN Security Council,” the statement said.
The spokesman said the North’s development of the new missile was part of its efforts to modernize its military and explained that it did not target any particular country or threaten the security of its neighbours.