UPDATE 2 – North Korea successfully launches long-range missile

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North Korea has launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from an area north of Pyongyang, U.S. and South Korean officials say, more than two months after the country’s latest missile test. It marks the country’s third long-range missile test.

The missile was launched at 2:47 a.m, local time on Wednesday from a site near Pyongsong in South Pyongan Province, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. It flew eastward and flew for about 50 minutes before falling into waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)..

An initial assessment from the South Korean military said the missile reached an altitude of 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) and traveled a distance of 960 kilometers (600 miles), which would make it an intercontinental ballistic missile and the country’s most advanced missile to date.

North Korean missiles are typically fired into high altitudes to avoid reaching other countries, although two missiles this year were flown over northern Japan.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe have both called emergency meetings of their government to discuss the missile launch. In the United States, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed.

Wednesday’s test followed indications from both Japan and the United States that North Korea was preparing to launch a missile, possibly as part of the army’s winter training. The country’s most recent missile launch happened on September 15, when it flew a missile over Japan.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have been escalating for months, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and threatening statements by President Donald Trump.

North Korea test-fired two long-range missiles in July, including one which in theory is capable of reaching large parts of the U.S. mainland. North Korea also carried out its sixth and most advanced nuclear test to date on September 3, which led to a new round of UN sanctions.

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