A North Korean missile was detected off the coast of Japan, raising concerns about the country's nuclear capabilities and its continued missile testing, despite sharp condemnation.
The missile was detected by the Pentagon in the morning hours of July 28, but details about the type of missile and any potential targets remain unknown, according to CNN. Intelligence in the area confirms that North Korea has been heavily invested in the development of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs.
"I have received the first report that North Korea again launched a missile and it possibly landed inside the exclusive economic zone," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Japan's exclusive economic zone is an area of the ocean extending out from the coast of the country.
Abe expressed his concern about North Korea's insistence to continue tests despite rebukes from Japan and the U.S.
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"As long as North Korea continues such provocative actions, there is no avoiding maintaining close contact with the international community -- starting with the U.S., South Korea, China and Russia -- and further strengthening the pressure," Abe said, according to Sky News.
The missile was fired from a northern province in North Korea after speculation that leader Kim Jong Un was readying for another ICBM test, according to CNBC. Experts in the area believed a test was coming to commemorate Victory Day, a military holiday on July 27. The test came in the morning hours of July 28.
Reuters reported that the angle of the missile was pointed sharply upward but more powerful than the missile North Korea launched on July 4, raising concerns that the country is escalating its nuclear capabilities in response to Western interference.
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According to CNN, U.S. intelligence believes that North Korea will be capable of launching an ICBM with nuclear potency by early 2018, far earlier than previous estimates that had such success projected three to five years away.
Still, many variables remain for the North Koreans to successfully strike a selected target. Experts note that while the country can get a missile "off the ground," other issues, like guidance and atmospheric re-entry, have yet to be solved.
"In all honesty, we should not be surprised any more: North Korea is slowly morphing into a nuclear and missile power right before our very eyes," Harry Kazianis, a think-tank director, told CNBC.
The U.S. is planning to test its experimental Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system -- THAAD -- in the coming days.