NK leader signals more missile tests
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signaled more missile launches into the Pacific Ocean after a successful test of a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) that flew over Japan, Tuesday, according to Pyongyang’s state media, Wednesday.
The Hwasong-12 flew about 2,700 kilometers over Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean. This was the first time that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan.
“The missile firing, which closely resembled actual warfare, is the first step of our military operations in the Pacific and a significant prelude to check the U.S. territory of Guam,” the North’s Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying.
“We need to carry out more ballistic missile tests toward the Pacific, so that we can develop strategic forces more practically.”
His comments showed the North could test-fire missiles toward not only areas around the Korean Peninsula but also those near Japan, Guam and other Pacific regions.
Why Aug. 29 was D-Day
The KCNA said the country chose Aug. 29 for the missile launch to intimidate Japan on the occasion of the 107th anniversary of Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910.
“We carried out a bold operation, which flabbergasted the brutal Japanese islanders, on bloody Aug. 29, the day when the humiliating treaty of annexation was announced 107 years ago,” the KCNA said.
According to the annexation treaty, Korea lost its sovereignty, and remained under Japanese colonial rule until Aug. 15, 1945.
The news agency said Kim gave detailed orders about the test, including the trajectory and the target, adding the missile hit a targeted location in the North Pacific after flying over the Oshima Peninsula and Cape Erimo on Hokkaido.
“The test did not have any impact on neighboring countries’ safety,” it said.
The report confirmed the missile was a Hwasong-12, an IRBM which the North earlier threatened to use to strike the U.S. territory of Guam.
It said the test was a show-of-force against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise, Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG). It was also the first launch from near Pyongyang, as the missile was fired from Sunan airport, the main gateway to the North Korean capital.
“The U.S. responded with a bellicose joint military exercise to our warning that we would watch its conduct. The missile test is only the beginning of the country’s stern countermeasures against UFG,” the report said.
“As we earlier declared, we will keep watching the U.S. conduct, and decide on our next action according to it.”