North Korea successfully carried out the launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, according to Pyongyang’s state media report. The report added that the weapon was now ready to be deployed for military action. The missile which was tested is called the Pukguksong-2, a land-based version of the country’s submarine-launched weapon, using solid-fuel that allows for immediate firing, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency. The report said leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw the missile test. This has sparked a new chorus of condemnation from international corners with fresh threats of tougher UN sanctions. The missile took off from a location near Pukchang, northeast of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, and flew 310 miles before falling in waters off the county’s east coast.
Meanwhile, South Korea has said that the launch has dashed hopes for peace, according to a Reuters report. North Korea firing a ballistic missile into waters off its east coast on Sunday is the second missile test in a week. According to military officials, this one is an upgraded version. South Korea’s new liberal government had hoped for improved relations with their reclusive neighbour, but North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programs – even from China, its lone major ally. according to the report. North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and on Saturday – they said they had reached their goal. However, according to various reports, western missile experts have said that the claims are exaggerated. The Reuters report cited an official travelling with US President Donald Trump in Saudi Arabia, the White House has noted that this missile had a shorter range than the three previous tests.
A New York Times article said that although North Korea has vowed to develop the ‘ability to attack the United States with nuclear warheads’ and has tested missiles which could reach throughout the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity, it has ‘never tested a long-range missile that could fly across the Pacific’. The report cited missile experts saying that the country may still be years away from mastering the technologies needed to build a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile.
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Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the latest action was ‘a snub and a challenge to international efforts for a peaceful resolution.’ South Korea calling it ‘reckless and irresponsible’ – their new president Moon Jae-In has barely been in office for two weeks. He was elected with a mandate of a more moderate approach to the North, seeking to reduce tension on the peninsula.
Interestingly, The Boston Globe, in an opinion piece wrote that Donald Trump’s ‘bluff has been called’, adding that North Korea’s choice to “ignore Washington’s warnings was entirely predictable”. It said: “America’s new president notwithstanding, North Korea conducted another missile test over the weekend, showcasing the rapid advancement of its weapons programs. The missile, which travelled about 430 miles, is apparently a new design with a longer range than previously known North Korean weapons.”
According to The Guardian, the White House has said that North Korea has been ‘a flagrant menace for far too long’ and the US ‘can not imagine that Russia is pleased’ with North Korea’s latest missile test, saying the projectile landed close to Russian soil.
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North Korea has attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles on four occasions in the past two months. However, it has conducted a variety of missile tests since the beginning of 2016, at an unprecedented pace. According to a The Guardian report, “Weapons experts and government officials believe the north has accomplished some technical progress with those tests.”
Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review reported that the United Nations Security Council is due to meet tomorrow ‘behind closed doors’ to discuss North Korea’s latest missile test at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea. The JapanTimes has reported that the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has termed the launch as a “challenge to the world.” The report added that Trump has vowed that a launch of an ICBM by Pyongyang “won’t happen” on his watch.
Interestingly, according to a Washington Post report said that North Korea’s missile test is a huge step forward. The report said that the latest successful missile test represents a level of performance ‘never before seen from a North Korean missile’. John Schilling, an aerospace engineer told WP that the test means that North Korea might be only one year, rather than the expected five, from having an ICBM.