North Korea ‘ca­pa­ble of US mis­sile strike’

Test shows progress, say ex­perts

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - REUTERS SEOUL

NORTH Korea said yes­ter­day it had suc­cess­fully test-launched an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile (ICBM) for the first time, which flew a tra­jec­tory that ex­perts said could al­low a weapon to hit the US state of Alaska.

The launch came days be­fore lead­ers from the Group of 20 na­tions were due to dis­cuss steps to rein in North Korea’s weapons pro­gramme, which it has pur­sued in de­fi­ance of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions.

The launch, which North Korea’s state me­dia said was or­dered and su­per­vised by leader Kim Jong Un, sent the rocket 933km­reach­ing an al­ti­tude of 2 802m over a flight time of 39 min­utes. North Korea has said it wants to de­velop a mis­sile mounted with a nu­clear war­head ca­pa­ble of strik­ing the US main­land.

To do that it would need an ICBM with a range of 8 000km or more, a war­head small enough to be mounted on it and tech­nol­ogy to en­sure its sta­ble re-en­try into the at­mos­phere.

Some an­a­lysts said the flight de­tails yes­ter­day sug­gested the new mis­sile had a range of more than 8 000km, un­der­scor­ing ma­jor ad­vances in its pro­gramme. Other an­a­lysts said they be­lieved its range was not so far.

Of­fi­cials from South Korea, Ja­pan and the US said the mis­sile landed in the sea in Ja­pan’s Ex­clu­sive Eco­nomic Zone af­ter be­ing launched on a high tra­jec­tory from near an air­field north-west of the North’s cap­i­tal, Py­ongyang.

“The test launch was con­ducted at the sharpest an­gle pos­si­ble and did not have any neg­a­tive ef­fect on neigh­bour­ing coun­tries,” North Korea’s state me­dia said.

The North said its mis­siles were now ca­pa­ble of strik­ing any­where in the world.

“It ap­pears the test was suc­cess­ful. If launched on a stan­dard an­gle, the mis­sile could have a range of more than 8 000 km,” said Kim Dongyub, a mil­i­tary ex­pert at Kyung­nam Uni­ver­sity’s In­sti­tute of Far East­ern Stud­ies in Seoul. “But we have to see more de­tails of the new mis­sile to de­ter­mine if North Korea has ac­quired ICBM tech­nol­ogy.”

South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in, who con­vened a na­tional se­cu­rity coun­cil meet­ing, said ear­lier the mis­sile was be­lieved to be an in­ter­me­di­ate-range type, but the mil­i­tary was look­ing into the pos­si­bil­ity it was an ICBM.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wrote on Twit­ter: “North Korea has just launched an­other mis­sile. Does this guy have any­thing bet­ter to do with his life?” – an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Hard to be­lieve South Korea and Ja­pan will put up with this much longer. Per­haps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this non­sense once and for all!”, Trump said in a se­ries of tweets.

Stock mar­kets in both South Korea and Ja­pan fell, with the Kospi end­ing down 0.6% and Ja­pan’s Nikkei share av­er­age end­ing down 0.1%.

Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said he would ask the pres­i­dents of China and Rus­sia to play more con­struc­tive roles in ef­forts to stop Py­ongyang’s nu­clear arms pro­gramme.

“Lead­ers of the world will gather at the G20 meet­ing. I would like to strongly call for sol­i­dar­ity of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on the North Korean is­sue,” Abe told re­porters.

Ja­pan said on Mon­day the US, South Korea and Ja­pan would have a tri­lat­eral sum­mit on North Korea at the G20. Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping will also be at the July 7-8 meet­ing in Ham­burg, Ger­many.

Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry spokesman Geng Shuang called for calm and re­straint, and re­it­er­ated China’s op­po­si­tion to North Korea’s vi­o­la­tion of UN res­o­lu­tions on mis­sile tests.

Re­spond­ing to Trump’s tweet, Geng said China had for a long time been work­ing hard to re­solve the North Korean nu­clear is­sue.

“China’s con­tri­bu­tion is ob­vi­ous to all.

“China’s role is in­dis­pens­able,” he said.

South Korean army sol­diers watch a TV news pro­gramme at Seoul Rail­way Sta­tion show­ing a file im­age of a mis­sile be­ing test-launched by North Korea. PIC­TURE: AP

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