N. Korea challenges South with missile test
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