North Korea Celebrates Test Of New, Long-Range Missile

Elias Hubbard
May 15, 2017

Sunday's launch was of a "new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket" named the Hwasong-12, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said. A jubilant leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that North Korean weapons could strike the USA mainland and Pacific holdings. Trump has also pledged to consider all options to rein in Kim's nuclear-arms ambitions.

It appeared to demonstrate an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that could "reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam" in the Pacific, he said, and "more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)".

"North Korea's latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile", Washington-based monitoring project, 38 North, said in an analysis issued on Sunday.

Last week the South also elected a new president, Moon Jae-In, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

The South Korean, Japanese and USA militaries say the missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan.

"The president expressed deep regret over the fact that this reckless provocation ... occurred just days after a new government was launched in South Korea", senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan said. And it says South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with the U.S. The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. North Korea showed off this missile for the first time at its April 15 parade.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile was sacked early Sunday morning from near Kusong, in North Phyongan province. But if it was sacked at a standard trajectory, it would have a range of at least 4,000 km (2,500 miles), experts said. Some experts, including officials in Tokyo, estimate that Sunday's launch successfully tested a new type of missile in Pyongyang's arsenal.

"Given speculation over the past months about the possibility of military action by the (US President Donald) Trump administration to prevent Pyongyang from acquiring such weapons, the possible testing of ICBM subsystems in this low-key manner may be a North Korean hedge against the possibility of such action".

The missile came down in the Sea of Japan (East Sea), with Washington saying it impacted "so close to Russian soil ... the president can not imagine that Russia is pleased".

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, center, shakes hands with Defense Minister Han Min-koo upon his arrival to preside over a meeting of the National Security Council at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea. Japan's Kyodo News agency, citing unidentified sources, said the missile may be capable of covering a range as far as 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) if launched at a normal trajectory.

The isolated North is under multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes, which have triggered global alarm.

"We do not know the extent of damage or information that was captured in the attack; it's likely we'll hear more details about it today but initial reports suggest it was caught relatively early and limited to older computers", said James Woods, global investment analyst at Rivkin.

The missile traveled for about 30 minutes from Kusong, landing in the Sea of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated the protest in comments to reporters.

"U.S. and South Korean military officials are still assessing what type of shorter-range missile this one was".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article