North Korea today launched a ballistic missile that flew about 700 kilometers (435 miles), South Korea’s military said. It comes just days after the election of a new South Korean president and as US, Japanese and European militaries gather for war games in the Pacific. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the early morning launch but had few other details, including what type of ballistic missile was fired.
A statement said that the missile was fired from near Kusong City, in North Pyongan province, and that the South Korean and US militaries are analyzing the details. The kind of projectile matters because while North Korea regularly tests shorter-range missiles, it is also working to master the technology needed to field nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the US mainland.
The Trump administration has called such North Korean efforts unacceptable and has swung between threats of military action and offers to talk as it formulates a policy.
The launch also comes as troops from the US, Japan and two European nations gather on remote US islands in the Pacific for drills that are partly a message to North Korea. Last week South Koreans elected a new president, Moon Jae-in, who favors a much softer approach than his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye, who is in jail awaiting a corruption trial.
North Korea needs tests to perfect its missile program, but it also is thought to time its launches to come after the elections of new US and South Korean presidents in what analysts say are efforts meant to gauge a new administration’s reaction.