North Korea fires mis­sile over Ja­pan

Lat­est provo­ca­tion dims out­look for di­a­logue with NK

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Jun Ji-hye jjh@ktimes.com Re­lated sto­ries on pages 2, 4, 10

North Korea launched a bal­lis­tic mis­sile over Ja­pan, Tues­day, which trav­eled about 2,700 kilo­me­ters be­fore land­ing in the North Pa­cific Ocean, ac­cord­ing to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

“The uniden­ti­fied mis­sile reached a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 550 kilo­me­ters and was pre­sumed to be an in­ter­me­di­ate-range bal­lis­tic mis­sile (IRBM),” a JCS of­fi­cial said,

He added that the North’s lat­est provo­ca­tion was ap­par­ently to protest Seoul and Wash­ing­ton’s on­go­ing joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise, and to show its abil­ity to strike U.S. bases sta­tioned in Ja­pan and on Guam.

Seoul and Wash­ing­ton are cur­rently con­duct­ing their an­nual Ulchi Free­dom Guardian ex­er­cise, which will run un­til Aug. 31.

The North’s IRBM is be­lieved to have a range of about 4,500 kilo­me­ters, though the anal­y­sis of the range varies slightly be­tween agen­cies and in­sti­tutes.

“The mis­sile was fired at 5:57 a.m. from the vicin­ity of Su­nan District in Py­ongyang and passed through the skies over Ja­pan,” the JCS said.

This is the first mis­sile launched from the Su­nan area, where Py­ongyang’s main air­port is lo­cated. This might be an­other sign the North has been di­ver­si­fy­ing its mis­sile launch ar­eas in an ap­par­ent ef­fort to avoid sur­veil­lance, ex­perts said.

The mis­sile launch came af­ter North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threat­ened ear­lier this month to strike wa­ters around Guam with four Hwa­song-12 IRBMs. Guam is lo­cated about 3,000 kilo­me­ters from Py­ongyang.

The North Korean mis­sile launched this time flew over Ja­pan’s Hokkaido and landed in the North Pa­cific Ocean about 1,180 kilo­me­ters east of the north­ern Ja­panese is­land, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials there.

It is the third North Korean mis­sile to have been fired over Ja­pan af­ter a Tae­podong-1 in 1998 and an Unha-2 in 2009.

The JCS of­fi­cial said the North did not use a lofted, high-an­gle tra­jec­tory in its lat­est launch. Pre­vi­ously, the North fired its mis­siles at a high an­gle, claim­ing it was to ex­ert “no ad­verse ef­fect on the se­cu­rity of neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.”

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe de­nounced the provo­ca­tion as an “un­prece­dented and grave threat” to the coun­try’s se­cu­rity.

Dur­ing a 40-minute phone call, Abe and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump agreed to in­crease pres­sure on the North, with Trump say­ing the U.S. was “100 per­cent with Ja­pan.”

The South Korean govern­ment also con­demned the North, call­ing the launch “reck­less provo­ca­tion.”

Cheong Wa Dae con­vened a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil ses­sion, while Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in or­dered the mil­i­tary to demon­strate its ca­pa­bil­ity for “strong re­tal­i­a­tion.”

In line with the or­der, four Repub­lic of Korea Air Force F-15K fighter jets con­ducted a live-bomb­ing drill aimed at re­mov­ing the North Korean lead­er­ship in the event of war, while the state-run Agency for De­fense De­vel­op­ment re­leased footage of its re­cent test-fir­ings of do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped bal­lis­tic mis­siles with ranges of 500 and 800 kilo­me­ters.

JCS Chair­man Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo spoke on the phone with his U.S. coun­ter­part Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, dur­ing which time the two agreed to take re­lated coun­ter­mea­sures at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble date. The mea­sures will re­port­edly in­clude the dis­patch of U.S. strate­gic as­sets such as heavy bombers.

In its state­ment, the JCS said the North will face “res­o­lute re­tal­i­a­tion” from Seoul and Wash­ing­ton if it con­tin­ues its provo­ca­tions.

“North Korea’s launch of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile is a clear vi­o­la­tion of a U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that poses a se­ri­ous threat to the Korean Penin­sula and North­east Asia as well as the world,” said Army Col. Roh Jae-cheon, the JCS spokesman. “It will face res­o­lute re­tal­i­a­tion from South Korea and the United States if it car­ries out ad­di­tional provo­ca­tions.”

The JCS said the mis­sile launch was im­me­di­ately de­tected by South Korea’s sur­veil­lance as­sets, in­clud­ing an Aegis-equipped de­stroyer and an early warn­ing radar. The JCS added it is closely mon­i­tor­ing move­ments of the North Korean mil­i­tary in prepa­ra­tion for ad­di­tional provo­ca­tions.

For­eign Min­is­ter Kang Kyung-wha held tele­phone talks with U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, dur­ing which the top diplo­mats of the two na­tions ex­pressed “deep dis­ap­point­ment” over the North’s move that seemed to re­ject pos­si­ble di­a­logue pro­pos­als.

The lat­est provo­ca­tion came at a time when the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion has been seem­ingly turn­ing pos­i­tive about talks with the North, with Trump say­ing last week Kim has be­gun to “re­spect” Wash­ing­ton. Tiller­son had also said di­a­logue be­tween the U.S. and North Korea could be pos­si­ble in the “near fu­ture.”

AFP-Yon­hap

A woman passes by a tele­vi­sion screen dis­play­ing a map of Ja­pan in Tokyo, Tues­day, fol­low­ing a North Korean launch of a mis­sile that flew over Ja­pan. The North’s lat­est provo­ca­tion is seen as a clear mes­sage of de­fi­ance to Wash­ing­ton and Seoul which are con­duct­ing war games.

Reuters-Yon­hap

A Ja­pan Self-De­fense Forces (JSDF) sol­dier takes part in a drill to mo­bi­lize their Pa­triot Ad­vanced Ca­pa­bil­ity-3 (PAC-3) mis­sile unit in re­sponse to a re­cent mis­sile launch by North Korea, at the U.S. Air Force’s Yokota Air Base in Fussa near Tokyo, Ja­pan, Tues­day.

AFP-Yon­hap

Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe speaks to re­porters at his res­i­dence in Tokyo, Tues­day, af­ter North Korea launched a bal­lis­tic mis­sile over Ja­pan. Abe said North Korea’s launch of a mis­sile over its ter­ri­tory was an "un­prece­dented, se­ri­ous and grave threat.”

Yon­hap

F-15K fighter jets drop MK84 mul­ti­pur­pose bombs at a live-fire range near the in­ter-Korean border in Tae­baek in a show of over­whelm­ing force af­ter Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in or­dered the mil­i­tary to dis­play its ca­pa­bil­i­ties that can sternly re­spond to North Korea’s provo­ca­tions.

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