N. Korea chal­lenges South with mis­sile test

New Straits Times - - World -

SEOUL: North Korea yes­ter­day test-launched a bal­lis­tic mis­sile that flew for half an hour and reached an un­usu­ally high alti­tude be­fore land­ing in the Sea of Ja­pan, the South Korean, Ja­panese and United States mil­i­taries said.

The launch was a di­rect chal­lenge to the new South Korean pres­i­dent and comes as the US, Ja­panese and Euro­pean navies gather for joint war games in the Pa­cific.

It was the sev­enth such fir­ing this year, al­though the US Pa­cific Com­mand said “the flight is not con­sis­tent with an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile”.

Ja­panese of­fi­cials, how­ever, said the mis­sile flew for 30 min­utes, trav­el­ling about 800km and reach­ing an alti­tude of 2,000km — a flight pat­tern that could in­di­cate a new type of mis­sile.

David Wright, co-di­rec­tor of the Global Se­cu­rity Pro­gramme at the Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists, said the mis­sile could have a range of 4,500km if flown on a stan­dard, in­stead of a lofted, tra­jec­tory — con­sid­er­ably longer than Py­ongyang’s cur­rent mis­siles.

South Korea, Ja­pan and the US swiftly con­demned the launch, which jeop­ar­dised South Korean leader Moon Jae-in’s will­ing­ness for di­a­logue with the ri­val North.

“The pres­i­dent ex­pressed deep re­gret over the fact that this reck­less provo­ca­tion... oc­curred just days after a new gov­ern­ment was launched in South Korea,” said se­nior presidential sec­re­tary Yoon Young-chan.

“The pres­i­dent said we are leav­ing open the pos­si­bil­ity of di­a­logue with North Korea, but we should sternly deal with a provo­ca­tion to pre­vent North Korea from mis­cal­cu­lat­ing.”

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said the launch was “ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able” and that Ja­pan would re­spond res­o­lutely.

The White House said North Korea had been “a fla­grant men­ace for far too long”.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the mis­sile was fired early yes­ter­day from near Ku­song in North Phy­on­gan prov­ince. AP

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