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Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday (Aug 29), South Korea's military and the Japanese government said, in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its weapons ambitions.
Japan's public broadcaster NHK said the missile broke into three pieces and fell into waters off Hokkaido. No North Korean missile had overflown Japan for years, and the launch came after a strained period on the peninsula following Pyongyang's testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) last month that appeared to bring much of the US mainland within reach.
It threatened to fire a salvo of missiles towards the US territory of Guam, while US President Donald Trump issued an apocalyptic warning of raining "fire and fury" on the North, saying Washington's weapons were "locked and loaded".
North Korea kept up its bellicose rhetoric against the United States on Monday as South Korean officials said Pyongyang may be preparing its sixth nuclear weapon test.
Seoul's National Intelligence Service (NIS) told South Korean lawmakers at a closed door parliamentary session that it has detected signs of North Korea preparing for another nuclear test at its Punggye-ri underground test site.
Speculation of when North Korea would conduct another nuclear test has been rife this year, with it being pegged to various days important in North Korean history. North Korea's last nuclear test came in September, when it detonated what it claimed was a miniaturized nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on a missile, though analysts say the claim is nearly impossible to verify.