North will fire more mis­siles to warn US

The West Australian - - NEWS -

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for more weapons launches tar­get­ing the Pa­cific Ocean to ad­vance his coun­try’s abil­ity to con­tain Guam, state me­dia said yes­ter­day, a day af­ter Pyongyang for the first time flew a ballistic missile de­signed to carry a nu­clear pay­load over Japan.

Tues­day’s ag­gres­sive missile launch, likely the long­est ever from North Korea, over a close US ally sends a clear mes­sage of de­fi­ance as Wash­ing­ton and Seoul con­duct an­nual mil­i­tary drills. The Korean Cen­tral News Agency said the launch was a “mus­cle-flex­ing” coun­ter­mea­sure to the Ulchi Free­dom Guardian joint ex­er­cises that con­clude today. Pyongyang views the drills as in­va­sion re­hearsals and of­ten con­ducts weapons tests and es­ca­lates its rhetoric when they are held.

The KCNA re­port said the missile was an in­ter­me­di­ate-range Hwa­song-12, which the North first suc­cess­fully tested in May and threat­ened to fire into wa­ters near Guam ear­lier this month.

Mr Kim ex­pressed “great sat­is­fac­tion” over the launch that he called a “mean­ing­ful pre­lude” to con­tain­ing Guam and said North Korea would con­tinue to watch the US de­meanour be­fore it de­cides on fu­ture ac­tions, KCNA said.

The US ter­ri­tory is home to key US mil­i­tary bases that North Korea finds threat­en­ing. Mr Kim also said it was “nec­es­sary to pos­i­tively push for­ward the work for putting the strate­gic force on a mod­ern ba­sis by con­duct­ing more ballistic rocket launch­ing drills with the Pa­cific as a target in the fu­ture”.

The launch seemed de­signed to show that North Korea can back up a threat to target Guam, if it chooses to do so, while also es­tab­lish­ing a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous prece­dent that could see fu­ture mis­siles fly­ing over Japan.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile trav­elled around 2700km and reached a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 550km as it flew over the north­ern Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido.

President Donald Trump said North Korea had sig­nalled its “con­tempt for its neigh­bours” and that “all op­tions are on the ta­ble” in terms of a US re­sponse.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil con­demned the launch, which came less than a month af­ter the coun­cil im­posed its tough­est sanc­tions on North Korea.

A statement released af­ter a meet­ing in New York did not men­tion new sanc­tions but calls for strict im­ple­men­ta­tion of ex­ist­ing ones.

Any new test wor­ries Wash­ing­ton and its al­lies be­cause it pre­sum­ably puts North Korea a step closer to its goal of an arse­nal of nu­clear mis­siles that can re­li­ably target the US. Tues­day’s test, how­ever, looks es­pe­cially ag­gres­sive to Wash­ing­ton, Seoul and Tokyo. North Korea has con­ducted launches at an un­usu­ally fast pace this year (13 times, Seoul says), and some an­a­lysts be­lieve it could have vi­able lon­grange nu­clear mis­siles be­fore the end of Mr Trump’s first term in early 2021.

Seoul’s spy ser­vice said the North launched from the in­ter­na­tional air­port in its cap­i­tal, Pyongyang.

Ob­servers said launch­ing a road-mo­bile missile from an air­port run­way could demon­strate the North’s abil­ity to fire its mis­siles Pic­tures: AP from any­where in the coun­try. Aus­tralia’s For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop is hope­ful the tough­est sanc­tions ever im­posed on North Korea will soon bite and is con­fi­dent Rus­sia and China will get on board.

“If they are ap­plied uni­ver­sally then North Korea will feel the brunt of these sanc­tions and re­alise that a penalty has to be paid for its il­le­gal and provoca­tive be­hav­iour,” she told Sky News.

She con­ceded US mil­i­tary op­tions were avail­able but said US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son had as­sured her the US wants to ex­plore ev­ery diplo­matic and eco­nomic op­tion first.

“I don’t ac­cept that North Korea can’t be de­terred,” Ms Bishop said.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull against urged China to act, say­ing it had the great­est lever­age with North Korea.

“It has a unique abil­ity to bring the North Korean regime to its senses by ap­ply­ing eco­nomic pres­sure,” he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ex­pressed his ‘great sat­is­fac­tion’ at the launch.

The Hwa­song-12 in­ter­me­di­ate range missile blasts off.

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