North Korea Test-Fires Mis­sile in Im­plicit Chal­lenge to Trump

Mis­sile likely to have a range of up to 3,000-4,000 km; US may im­pose fresh sanc­tions

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

Seoul | Wash­ing­ton: North Korea fired a bal­lis­tic mis­sile into the sea early on Sun­day, the first such test since US President Don­ald Trump was elected, and his ad­min­is­tra­tion in­di­cated that Wash­ing­ton would have a cal­i­brated re­sponse to avoid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions. The test was li kely to have been of an in­ter­me­di­ate-range Musu­dan-class mis­sile that landed in the Sea of Japan, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s mil­i­tary, not an In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Bal­lis­tic Mis­sile (ICBM), which the North has said it could test at any time.

The launch marks the first test of Trump’s vow to get tough on an iso­lated North Korean regime that last year tested nu­clear de­vices and bal­lis­tic mis­siles at an un­prece­dented rate in vi­o­la­tion of United Na­tions res­o­lu­tions.

A US of­fi­cial said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion had been ex­pect­ing a North Korean “provo­ca­tion” soon af­ter tak­ing of­fice and will con­sider a full range of op­tions in re­sponse, but they would be cal­i­brated to show US re­solve while avoid­ing es­ca­la­tion. Later, White House ad­viser Stephen Miller said on the tele­vi­sion show “Fox News Sun­day” that “we are go­ing to re­in­force and strengthen our vi­tal al­liances in the Pa­cific re­gion as part of our strat­egy to de­ter and pre­vent the in­creas­ing hos­til­ity that we’ve seen in re­cent years from the North Korean regime”.

The new ad­min­is­tra­tion is also likely to step up pres­sure on China to rein in North Korea, re­flect­ing Trump’s pre­vi­ously stated view thatBei­jing­has­not­donee­noughon this front, the of­fi­cial said, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

“This was no sur­prise,” the of­fi­cial said. “The North Korean leader likes to draw at­ten­tion at times like this.”

The lat­est test comes a day af­ter Trump held a sum­mit meet­ing with Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, and also fol­lows Trump’s phone call last week with Chi­nese President Xi Jin­ping. NATO con­demned the mis­sile test in a state­ment by Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg, who said North Korea “must re­frain from fur­ther provo­ca­tions, halt all launches us­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile tech­nol­ogy and aban­don once and for all its bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams ... “

Trump and his aides are likely to weigh a se­ries of pos­si­ble re­sponses, in­clud­ing new US sanc­tions to tighten fi­nan­cial con­trols, an in­crease in naval and air as­sets in and around the Korean peninsula and ac­cel­er­ated in­stal­la­tion of new mis­sile de­fense sys­tems in South Korea, the ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said.

But the of­fi­cial said that given that the mis­sile was be­lieved not to have been an ICBM and that Pyongyang had not car­ried out a new nu­clear ex­plo­sion, any re­sponse will seek to avoid ratch­et­ing up ten­sions.

A TV grab show­ing North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in a re­port of the launch

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