N Korea fires missile close to Japan
NORTH Korea yesterday test-fired a submarine-launched missile 500 kilometres toward Japan, marking what weapons analysts described as a clear step forward for its nuclear strike ambitions.
The flight distance, which was tracked by South Korea’s military Joint Chiefs of Staff, far exceeded any previous SLBM tests, suggesting significant progress in technical prowess by the North Koreans.
A proven SLBM system would take North Korea’s nuclear strike threat to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a “second-strike” capability to retaliate in the event of an attack on its military bases.
“While there are still a lot of questions about the details, this test certainly seems to have been successful and significant,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.
“This system is still in development, but North Korea is clearly making progress,” Mr Lewis said.
Current UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, but Pyongyang has continued to carry out numerous launches following its fourth nuclear test in January.
South Korea has responded by agreeing to deploy a sophisticated United States anti-missile system – known as THAAD – a move that has seriously strained relations with North Korea’s main diplomatic ally, China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday’s missile breached his country’s Air Defence Identification Zone and condemned what he called an “unforgivable, reckless act”
and a grave threat to Japan’s security.
Earlier this month, North Korea fired a land-launched ballistic missile directly into Japanese-controlled waters for the first time. –
A man watches television news showing file footage of North Korea’s leader Kim Incheon Airport, Seoul, yesterday.
Jong-un during the missile launch, at