North Korea fired the Ballistic Missile over Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's main islands. According to the South Korean military the missile travelled 3,700km before landing in the ocean. Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe spoke to media shortly after, stating "If North Korea continues to walk this road, there will be no bright future. We need to get North Korea to understand that". The prime minister requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. South Korea in response fired 2 ballistic missiles into the sea, simulating a strike on North Korea according to Yonhap News Agency.

The second such provocation in under 3 weeks

On Tuesday 29 August this year the North had fired a missile over Japan, already drawing condemnation and a heightened rhetoric from the political elite in the US and much of the world.

US senator Lindsey Graham, speaking to BBC news after the first launch occurred, warned of an inevitable war with the North Korean regime if diplomacy failed. This second act has caused increased concern over the apparent recklessness of the North Korean regime. James Mattis, the US defense secretary, has accused North Korea of a reckless act that "put millions of Japanese in duck and cover".

Nuclear tests continue

This second missile launch comes at a time when the North Korean regime are being watched extremely closely by the South Korean and US military. On Sunday 3 September the North carried out an underground nuclear test so powerful that the tremors were felt over the border in China. This was not the first nuclear test undertaken by North Korea but is the most concerning .This bomb was up to eight times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

If this bomb could be loaded onto a long range missile such as the one fired over Japan, it could potentially reach U.S. soil. This could result in the U.S to needing to strike before this is a possibility.

The proximity of the South adds complication

The US has a strong military presence in the region. While the U.S. has 40,000 military personnel stationed in Japan and 35,000 in South Korea, it is understood that in an all out war the North could still do much damage to South Korea before it’s inevitable military loss.

According to David Maxwell, a U.S. army Korea veteran, within the first hours of a conflict “hundreds of thousands of artillery rounds and rockets would be fired into the south.” Seoul, South Korea’s capital city of approximately 10 million people, is just 35 miles from the border with North Korea.

John Negroponte, who was U.S. deputy secretary of state between 2007-2009, said that a war would be akin to a holocaust.

This latest provocation has caused much concern worldwide of the possibility of further escalation.