Air France Jet Flew Past North Korea Missile Path, Report Says

In this image taken with a slow shutter speed and provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base, an unarmed Minuteman 3 missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2107. (Senior Airman Ian Dudley/Vandenberg Air Force Base via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) – An Air France jet passed over the landing site of an intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea fired last week just 10 minutes before the missile landed, according to a report by ABC News.

The Boeing 777 was carrying 323 people when it passed over the point in the Sea of Japan on Friday where the North Korean ICBM would land just minutes later. In a statement to ABC News, Air France said the launch did not “interfere in any way with Air France’s flight paths.”

“Moreover, in cooperating with the authorities, Air France constantly analyzes potentially dangerous flyover zones and adapts its flight plans accordingly,” the statement reads.

A spokesperson for the Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment on the story, but Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement from the day of the launch that the United States’ commitment to defending allies in the area “remains ironclad.”

Amid the ongoing tensions over North Korea’s latest missile launch,  the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday successfully launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from California, the fourth such test this year.

The news of the relatively close call with the airliner comes at a time of increased focus on North Korea from the administration and members of Congress.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said on the “Today” show on Tuesday that military action against the reclusive state is “inevitable if North Korea continues” pursing its missile program.

“There is a military option to destroy North Korea’s program and North Korea itself,” Graham said.

President Donald Trump earlier this week promised to “handle North Korea,” while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a press briefing on Tuesday said the United States is not seeking to replace the North Korean regime.

“We have reaffirmed our position towards North Korea, that what we are doing, we do not seek a regime change; we do not seek the collapse of the regime; we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula; we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson said Tuesday. “And we’re trying to convey to the North Koreans we are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond. And we hope that at some point, they will begin to understand that and that we would like to sit and have a dialogue with them about the future that will give them the security they seek and the future economic prosperity for North Korea, but that will then promote economic prosperity throughout Northeast Asia.”

In a statement to Courthouse News, a State Department representative reiterated the department’s concerns over the test and others like it.

“As we have said before, reckless missile launches by North Korea threaten civil aviation and maritime commerce in the region,” the representative said.

The 30th Space Wing says the Minuteman 3 missile launched at 2:10 a.m. Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

An Air Force statement said the test would show the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system. Minuteman missiles are regularly tested with launches from Vandenberg that send unarmed re-entry vehicles 4,200 miles (6,800 kilometers) across the Pacific to a target area at Kwajalein Atoll.

 

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