North Korea test-fires ballistic missile

Elias Hubbard
May 14, 2017

North Korea fired on Sunday a ballistic missile from a region near its west coast that flew 700 kilometres (430 miles), South Korea's military said, days after a new leader took office in the South pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.

It was not clear what type of ballistic missile was launched, although the US Pacific Command said that "the flight is not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile". Japanese officials, however, said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, traveling about 800 kilometers (500 miles) and reaching an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) - a flight pattern that could indicate a new type of missile.

The reports about this particular test are causing considerable concern: If the data are correct, this missile had considerably longer range than those previously.

Before Sunday, North Korea had attempted at least nine missile launches on six occasions since US President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January.

The latest test was the North's first launch since a U.S. missile defence system that has been deployed in the South became operational on 2 May, and comes shortly after a failed ballistic missile test on 29 April.

"The president said while South Korea remains open to the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, it is only possible when the North shows a change in attitude", his spokesman said. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated the protest in comments to reporters.

"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil - in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan - the President can not imagine that Russia is pleased", Spicer said".

Tong Zhao, an analyst with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, said if the missile does have the range to hit Guam, it could give North Korea "a regional nuclear deterrence", meaning it might not need to pursue an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which could reach the U.S. mainland.

Press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement late Saturday that President Trump was briefed on the test.

Outside militaries and experts will closely analyze what the North fired.

While Pyongyang regularly tests shorter-range missiles, it is also working to master the technology needed to field nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States mainland.

Russian Federation responded to North Korea's test by putting its far eastern air defenses on high alert, according to a report from the RIA-Novosti news agency.

"The timing is not coincidental", Schuster said, adding that Kim may be trying to get Putin more involved in the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Inada's remarks suggest the missile might have been on a "lofted" trajectory, meaning it could have a far longer range than it actually flew.

The missile was sacked early on Sunday from a region named Kusong located northwest of Pyongyang, where the North previously test-launched an intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing, the last time in February.

The North has staged two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the start of past year in its quest to develop a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the US.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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