North Korea says more mis­siles to come as UN con­demns launch

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SEOUL — North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un has promised more mis­sile flights over Ja­pan, in­sist­ing his nu­clear-armed na­tion’s provoca­tive launch was a mere “cur­tain-raiser,” in the face of UN con­dem­na­tion and US warn­ings of se­vere reper­cus­sions.

The Hwa­song-12 in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile that Py­ongyang un­leashed on Tues­day rep­re­sented a ma­jor es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions over its weapons pro­grams.

In re­cent weeks it has threat­ened to send a salvo of mis­siles to­wards the US ter­ri­tory of Guam, while Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump has warned of rain­ing “fire and fury” on the North.

After the lat­est launch Mr. Trump said that “all op­tions” were on the ta­ble, re­viv­ing his im­plied threat of pre­emp­tive US mil­i­tary ac­tion just days after con­grat­u­lat­ing him­self that Mr. Kim ap­peared to be “start­ing to re­spect us.”

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil — which has al­ready im­posed seven sets of sanc­tions on Py­ongyang — said in a unan­i­mous state­ment the North’s “out­ra­geous” ac­tions “are not just a threat to the re­gion, but to all UN mem­ber states.”

Both the North’s key ally China and Rus­sia, which also has ties to it, backed the US-drafted dec­la­ra­tion, but it will not im­me­di­ately lead to new or tight­ened sanc­tions.

The Rodong Sin­mun news­pa­per, mouth­piece of the North’s rul­ing party, on Wed­nes­day car­ried more than 20 pic­tures of the launch near Py­ongyang. One showed Mr. Kim smil­ing broadly at a desk with a map of the North­west Pa­cific, sur­rounded by aides.

An­other showed him gaz­ing up­wards as the mis­sile rose into the air.

South Korea’s mil­i­tary said Tues­day that it had trav­eled around 2,700 kilo­me­ters (1,700 miles) and reached a max­i­mum al­ti­tude of 550 kilo­me­ters.

The of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) cited Mr. Kim as say­ing that “more bal­lis­tic rocket launch­ing drills with the Pa­cific as a tar­get in the fu­ture” were nec­es­sary.

Tues­day’s launch was a “mean­ing­ful pre­lude to con­tain­ing Guam, ad­vanced base of in­va­sion,” he said, and a “cur­tain- raiser” for the North’s “res­o­lute coun­ter­mea­sures” against on­go­ing US- South Korean mil­i­tary ex­er­cises which the North re­gards as a re­hearsal for in­va­sion.

Wed­nes­day’s state­ment was the first time the North has ac­knowl­edged sending a mis­sile over Ja­pan’s main is­lands. Two of its rock­ets pre­vi­ously did so, in 1998 and 2009, but on both oc­ca­sions it claimed they were space launch ve­hi­cles.

In­de­pen­dent an­a­lysts posted im­ages online sug­gest­ing that Mr. Kim’s map showed an in­tended flight path of 3,200 kilo­me­ters, im­ply­ing that the mis­sile may have fallen 500 kilo­me­ters short. A South Korean de­fense of­fi­cial told AFP they were still an­a­lyz­ing the North’s im­ages.


Tues­day’s mis­sile over­flight trig­gered con­ster­na­tion in world cap­i­tals and on the ground, with sirens blar­ing out and text mes­sage alerts in Ja­pan warn­ing peo­ple to take cover.

“Threat­en­ing and desta­bi­liz­ing ac­tions only in­crease the North Korean regime’s iso­la­tion in the re­gion and among all na­tions of the world,” Mr. Trump said in a state­ment. “All op­tions are on the ta­ble.”

At the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil emer­gency meet­ing US am­bas­sador Nikki Ha­ley warned that “enough is enough” and that tough ac­tion had to be taken.

“It’s un­ac­cept­able,” Ms. Ha­ley said. “They have vi­o­lated ev­ery sin­gle UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion that we’ve had, and so I think some­thing se­ri­ous has to hap­pen.”

But de­spite Wash­ing­ton’s rhetoric, US of­fi­cials pri­vately echo the warn­ing by Mr. Trump’s now for­mer chief strate­gist Steve Ban­non — that a pre­emp­tive strike against the North is im­pos­si­ble given its ca­pac­ity to in­flict mas­sive re­tal­i­a­tion on the South.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi told a brief­ing Wed­nes­day that Bei­jing would make a “nec­es­sary re­sponse” to the launch, but said con­sen­sus would be needed on any fresh set of sanc­tions. Py­ongyang last month car­ried out its first two suc­cess­ful tests of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile, ap­par­ently bring­ing much of the US main­land into range, but the Pen­tagon said Tues­day’s launch was judged not to have rep­re­sented a threat.

Any mis­sile fired by the North at Guam would have to pass over Ja­pan, and an­a­lysts told AFP that Py­ongyang ap­peared to have cho­sen Tues­day’s tra­jec­tory as a “half-way house” op­tion to send a mes­sage with­out cross­ing a red line.

Nev­er­the­less Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe was nev­er­the­less vis­i­bly un­set­tled, dub­bing the launch an “un­prece­dented, se­ri­ous and grave threat.”

KCNA said the launch was timed to mark the 107th an­niver­sary of the “dis­grace­ful” Ja­pan-Korea treaty of 1910, un­der which Tokyo col­o­nized the Korean penin­sula.

It ush­ered in a pe­riod of op­pres­sive rule that only ended with Ja­pan’s de­feat in the Sec­ond World War and is re­sented by Ko­re­ans on both sides of the di­vided penin­sula, com­pli­cat­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Tokyo and Seoul — both of them US al­lies.

THIS PIC­TURE from North Korea’s of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) taken on Aug. 29 and released on Aug. 30 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) watch­ing the launch of Hwa­song-12 at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion near Pyongyang.

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