North Korea continues to defy warnings to quit messing with missile tests, this time with an apparent launch into the sea near Japan, the AP and Reuters report. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the missile, which was launched Friday night, looks to have landed in the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the area within a certain number of nautical miles in which a country lays claim to natural resources. The missile was launched at close to midnight local time, from Chagang province in the northern part of the North, the Yonhap News Agency reports. "We will immediately analyze information and do our utmost to protect the safety of the Japanese people," Abe said, adding that he has called a meeting of the National Security Council.
A Japanese government rep says the missile flew for about 45 minutes before splashing into the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, with a US intelligence assessment noting the missile traveled about 620 horizontal miles, ABC News reports. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the missile launch to the AP, noting they were continuing to analyze the situation. A US official confirmed to CNN earlier this week that it's possible North Korea could launch a nuclear-capable ICBM by early 2018—two years earlier than previously anticipated, though many factors are still unknown. "North Korea is slowly morphing into a nuclear and missile power right before our very eyes," a director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest think tank tells CNBC. (Hawaii is prepping for a nuclear attack.)