NK mis­sile no bet­ter than be­fore: an­a­lysts China

Global Times - - Front Page - By Bai Tiantian

North Korea fired a bal­lis­tic mis­sile over Ja­pan’s north­ern Hokkaido Is­land Tues­day morn­ing, prompt­ing Tokyo to warn its cit­i­zens to take cover.

Ex­perts said the lat­est launch pro­vides no in­di­ca­tion that North Korean mis­sile tech­nol­ogy has im­proved to ac­cu­rately strike Guam, but Py­ongyang may wish to force the US into ne­go­ti­a­tions fa­vor­able to­ward North Korea by threat­en­ing the se­cu­rity of Ja­pan.

Chi­nese for­eign min­istry spokes­woman Hua Chun­y­ing urged rel­e­vant par­ties at a press con­fer­ence to re­frain from pro­vok­ing each other to pre­vent re­gional ten­sions from fur­ther es­ca­lat­ing.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump warned North Korea that “all op­tions are on the ta­ble,” and that threat­en­ing and desta­bi­liz­ing ac­tions only in­crease the North Korea’s iso­la­tion in the re­gion and among all na­tions

of the world, Trump said in a state­ment re­leased by the White House.

The mis­sile could have been the in­ter­me­di­at­erange Hwa­song- 12 mis­sile or Pukguk­song- 2. If it was the lat­ter, Py­ongyang could have been con­duct­ing a full- range test, Song Zhong­ping, a mil­i­tary ex­pert who served in the Rocket Force, told the Global Times on Tues­day.

The mis­sile was fired at around 5: 58 am from the western coast of North Korea in a north­east­ern di­rec­tion, and passed over Cape Erimo on Ja­pan’s north­ern­most main is­land of Hokkaido around 6: 06 am, Ja­pan’s Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said.

The mis­sile flew over 2,700 kilo­me­ters, reach­ing a height of 550 kilo­me­ters, and fell into the Pa­cific Ocean some 1,180 kilo­me­ters east of Cape Erimo around 6: 12 am. The launch marks the first flight of a North Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile over Ja­pan, and is con­sid­ered by Western me­dia as one of the most provoca­tive bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests Py­ongyang has ever con­ducted.

In 2009, North Korea fired a rocket car­ry­ing a com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite into or­bit over Ja­pan.

Ja­panese tele­vi­sion and ra­dio broad­cast­ers on Tues­day broke into their reg­u­lar pro­gram­ming with a “J- Alert,” warn­ing cit­i­zens of the mis­sile launch. Bul­let train ser­vices were tem­po­rar­ily halted and warn­ings went out over loud­speak­ers in towns in Hokkaido.

“North Korea’s reck­less ac­tion is an un­prece­dented, se­ri­ous and grave threat to our na­tion,” Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe told re­porters on Tues­day.

Abe said he spoke to Trump and they agreed to in­crease pres­sure on North Korea. Trump also said the US was “100 per­cent with Ja­pan,” Abe told re­porters, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters re­port.

Song, a bal­lis­tic mis­sile ex­pert, brushed off spec­u­la­tion that Tues­day’s launch could have been a warm- up for a sim­i­lar ac­tion to­ward Guam, adding that Py­ongyang needs more tests for its mis­siles to func­tion re­li­ably.

“This bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch was a nor­mal weapons tra­jec­tory test. For th­ese kinds of tests, mis­siles need to reach their full range to see how dif­fer­ent parts re­act in tra­jec­tory and whether they can func­tion prop­erly un­der a sys­tem com­mand,” Song said.

Gain­ing the up­per hand

“We will re­spond strongly based on our stead­fast al­liance with the US if North Korea con­tin­ues nu­clear and mis­sile provo­ca­tions,” the South Korean for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment.

Four South Korean fighter jets bombed a mil­i­tary fir­ing range on Tues­day af­ter Pres­i­dent Moon Jae- in asked the mil­i­tary to demon­strate their ca­pa­bil­i­ties to counter North Korea.

South Korea and the US had dis­cussed de­ploy­ing ad­di­tional “strate­gic as­sets” on the Korean Penin­sula, the pres­i­den­tial Blue House said in a state­ment, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails, Reuters said.

Da Zhi­gang, di­rec­tor of the Hei­longjiang Pro­vin­cial Academy of So­cial Sciences’ In­sti­tute of North­east Asian Stud­ies, said Py­ongyang may wish to use the launch to pro­voke key al­lies of the US and force Wash­ing­ton into ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“Un­der tremen­dous US pres­sure, North Korea has launched mul­ti­ple mis­siles but failed to re­ceive a de­sir­able re­sponse from the US. The bal­lis­tic mis­sile’s flight over Hokkaido could be a strat­egy to ‘ kid­nap’ Ja­pan and South Korea, the two key US al­lies, to threaten the US and force it into sub­mis­sion on cer­tain terms,” Da said.

Pedes­tri­ans walk in front of a huge screen dis­play­ing a map of Ja­pan ( cen­ter) and the Korean Penin­sula, in Tokyo on Tues­day, fol­low­ing a North Korean mis­sile that flew over Ja­pan.

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