Updated Mar 24, 2022 - World

North Korea tests first intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017

TV showing North Korea's ICBM test
A South Korean news broadcast on March 16 showing file footage of a North Korean missile test. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea, for the first time since 2017, tested what is suspected to have been an intercontinental ballistic missile, according to South Korean and Japanese officials — raising new alarms about its ability to strike the United States.

Why it matters: The banned long-range missile, which Japan says flew to an altitude of 3,728 miles and covered a distance of 596 miles, threatens to destabilize the region at a time when the Biden administration and much of the world are consumed by the war in Ukraine.

  • News of the test broke just as Western leaders were gathering in Brussels for three high-stakes summits to discuss their response to the Ukraine crisis.
  • It's North Korea's 11th missile launch of the year, but the longest-range test since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un imposed a moratorium on ICBM and nuclear tests to pursue diplomacy with former President Trump.

What they're saying: "This launch is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

  • "The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions."
  • "The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies."

The latest: South Korea's military said it fired multiple missiles in response to North Korea's test on Thursday to demonstrate its "retaliatory" and "precision strike" capabilities.

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