MISSILE LAUNCHED ‘WITH GUAM IN MIND’
The UN Security Council met in emergency session Friday after North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile, to talk about what to do now that Kim Jong Un has ignored its latest round of sanctions.
The intermediate-range weapon, launched early Friday from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport, hurtled over Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean. It signalled both defiance of North Korea’s rivals and a big technological advance. The missile travelled the furthest Pyongyang has ever fired a projectile, in what has been interpreted as a message that the regime “has Guam in mind.”
The launch will also be seen as a direct challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump, who warned the North last month that it would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the U.S. Speaking at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland Friday, Trump said the U.S. will defend itself against attacks on its way of life, and that he’s more confident than ever, after seeing the military hardware there, that U.S. options for addressing the threat from North Korea “are both effective and overwhelming.”
The missile flew about 3,700 kilometres — the greatest distance travelled by a North Korean missile, and slightly greater than the distance between the North Korean capital and the U.S. territory of Guam. It has come under threat from Pyongyang in recent weeks, prompting Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera to say that he believed North Korea “has Guam in mind.”
Garren Mulloy, a defence expert and associate professor of international relations at Japan’s Daito Bunka University, told The Daily Telegraph: “From previous launches and the altitude and ranges of those missiles, it has been assumed that Guam is within range of the North’s missiles, but this latest test is proof.”
Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho told reporters as he headed into the closeddoor council meeting that he was certain all 15 members “will be condemning this outrageous act.”
“It is, of course, a grave threat to our own security but … it is a real threat to the peace and security of the world as a whole,” he said.
Bessho called on all countries to implement sanctions against North Korea, including measures adopted four days ago in response to Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, which it said was a hydrogen bomb. The United States said those sanctions, combined with previous sanctions, would ban over 90 per cent of North Korea’s exports reported in 2016.
Calling the latest launch an “illegal, provocative, reckless act,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, clearly referring to China, said all countries, especially North Korea’s largest trading partners and closest links, must “demonstrate that they are doing everything in their power to implement the sanctions of the Security Council and to encourage the North Korean regime to change course.”
A North Korean soldier stands at his guard post near the city of Sinuiju. North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile Friday, sending an intermediate-range weapon over Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean.