North Korea fired a rocket on Wednesday (May 31st) that it presented as a "space launch vehicle", according to the South Korean military, briefly triggering alerts in Seoul and the Japanese archipelago of Okinawa (south).

Pyongyang fired "what it calls a space launch vehicle" southward, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. "Missile launch. Missile launch. North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please take shelter inside buildings or underground," said the alert tweeted by the Japanese Prime Minister's Office to Okinawa residents, and broadcast by national broadcaster NHK.

However, the government cancelled its alert 30 minutes later, considering any danger removed. "It is expected that the missile mentioned earlier will not arrive in Japan. The call to evacuate is lifted," he said on Twitter.

Disguised ballistic missile launch

South Korea also cancelled an alert issued by the city of Seoul, which had sounded sirens and sent a critical emergency message to all mobile phones asking residents to prepare to evacuate by putting "children and the elderly first." "We inform you that the alert issued by Seoul metropolitan authorities at 6:41 a.m. was incorrectly issued," South Korea's interior ministry said.

North Korea had announced on Tuesday that it would launch a "military reconnaissance satellite" to "deal with the dangerous military actions of the United States and its vassals", Japan believing for its part that it would be a disguised ballistic missile launch.

The Japanese Ministry of Defence had ordered the shooting down of any missile confirmed to fall on land or sea territory, and had deployed SM-3 and Patriot PAC-3 interceptor missiles for this purpose.

With AFP

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