N. Korea says new long-range missile can carry nuke
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Korea said Monday the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of long-range ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.
North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness, but if confirmed, the claim marks another big step forward in the country’s escalating efforts to field a nucleartipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Outside experts don’t believe the North can do that yet, but each new test pushes them closer to the goal.
The launch Sunday is an immediate challenge to South Korea’s new leader, a liberal elected just five days earlier who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea. The country’s push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration’s most urgent foreign policy worries.
The missile flew for half an hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and U.S. militaries said. Tokyo said the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile.
The launch jeopardizes new South Korean President Moon Jaein’s willingness for dialogue with the North, and came as U.S., Japanese and European navies gather for joint war games in the Pacific.
“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 Youngchan said. “The president said we are leaving open the possibility of dialogue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provocation to prevent North Korea from miscalculating.”
U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said on ABC television that the U.S. has been working well with China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, and she raised the possibility of new sanctions against North Korea.