Full ground stop in western U.S. came around same time as North Korea's apparent missile launch

Some air traffic controllers in the western United States were heard ordering ground stops on Monday, around the same time North Korea launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile into its eastern sea.

It is unclear whether the two events are related.

US Indo-Pacific Command said it was “aware of the ballistic missile launch”.

“While we have determined that this event poses no immediate threat to US personnel or territory or our allies, the missile launch underscores the destabilizing effects of (North Korea’s) illegal weapons program,” the US Indo-Pacific Command statement said . “US commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains stubborn.”

The FAA said in a statement that “as a precautionary measure” it temporarily suspended flights at some airports along the west coast on Monday night.

“Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA is regularly taking precautionary measures,” the statement said. “We are reviewing the process around this floor freeze as we do after all of these events.”

The ground stop, during which aircraft approaching a destination are stopped on take-off, took about 7 minutes.

A spokeswoman for San Diego International Airport said the airport employees were briefed by air traffic control shortly after 2:30 p.m. that there was a ground stop, but it was lifted about 5 to 7 minutes later.

A spokesman for Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County, California said the stop “was initiated and canceled within 3 minutes this afternoon so it never came into play. “

The apparent missile launch was North Korea’s second missile launch within a week after Prime Minister Kim Jong Un called for an expansion of its nuclear weapons program despite international opposition.

The launches follow a series of weapons tests in 2021 that underscored how North Korea continues to build military capabilities amid deadlocked nuclear talks with the US.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the launch is a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions and demonstrates a more advanced capability than North Korea’s previous launch last week.

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