Con­cern as North Korea launches se­cond mis­sile

Chal­lenge: Tests sug­gest Py­ongyang is close to de­vel­op­ing a nu­clear ar­se­nal

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Kim Tong-hyung

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was called into emer­gency ses­sion yes­ter­day af­ter North Korea con­ducted its long­est-ever test flight of a bal­lis­tic mis­sile. Mem­bers gath­ered to dis­cuss what to do now that Kim Jong Un has ig­nored its lat­est round of sanc­tions.

France’s For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment that the coun­try was ready to work on tougher UN and EU mea­sures “to con­vince the regime in Py­ongyang that there is no in­ter­est in an es­ca­la­tion, and to bring it to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble”.

It said North Korea will also be dis­cussed dur­ing next week’s an­nual gath­er­ing of world lead­ers at the Gen­eral Assem­bly.

The in­ter­me­di­ate-range weapon North Korea launched early yes­ter­day from Su­nan, the lo­ca­tion of Py­ongyang’s in­ter­na­tional air­port, hur­tled over US ally Ja­pan into the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean.

The launch sig­nalled both de­fi­ance of North Korea’s ri­vals and a ma­jor tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance.

Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea said the mis­sile trav­elled about 2,300 miles and reached a max­i­mum height of 478 miles be­fore land­ing in the ocean.

Since Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump threat­ened the North with “fire and fury” in Au­gust, Py­ongyang has con­ducted its most pow­er­ful nu­clear test and launched two mis­siles of in­creas­ing range over Ja­pan, an ally of the United States.

The grow­ing fre­quency, power and con­fi­dence dis­played by these tests seems to con­firm what gov­ern­ments and out­side ex­perts have long feared – North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of build­ing a mil­i­tary ar­se­nal that can vi­ably tar­get both US troops in Asia and the US home­land.

This, in turn, is meant to al­low North Korea greater mil­i­tary free­dom in the re­gion by rais­ing doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the an­ni­hi­la­tion of a US city to pro­tect its Asian al­lies.

North Korea has re­peat­edly vowed to con­tinue these tests amid what it calls Amer­i­can hos­til­ity, by which it means the pres­ence of tens of thou­sands of Amer­i­can troops in Ja­pan and South Korea.

Ro­bust diplo­macy on the is­sue has been stalled for years, and there is lit­tle sign that se­nior of­fi­cials from Py­ongyang and Washington might sit down to dis­cuss ways to slow the North’s de­ter­mined march to­ward in­clu­sion among the world’s nu­clear weapons pow­ers.

The mis­sile was launched from Su­nan, Py­ongyang’s in­ter­na­tional air­port and the ori­gin of the ear­lier mis­sile that flew over Ja­pan.

An­a­lysts have spec­u­lated the new test was of the same in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile launched in that ear­lier flight, the Hwa­song-12.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and US De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis both called the launch a reck­less act.

The North Amer­i­can Aerospace De­fence Com­mand and the US Pa­cific Com­mand said the mis­sile posed no threat to North Amer­ica or to Guam.

North Korea has been ac­cel­er­at­ing its nu­clear weapons de­vel­op­ment un­der leader Kim Jong Un, a third-gen­er­a­tion dic­ta­tor who has con­ducted four of North Korea’s six nu­clear tests since tak­ing power in 2011.

The weapons are be­ing tested at a tor­rid pace and in­clude solid-fuel mis­siles de­signed to be launched from road mo­bile launch­ers or sub­marines that are less de­tectable be­fore­hand.

Since Pres­i­dent Trump is­sued his “fire and fury” warn­ing to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month, Py­ongyang has car­ried out a nu­clear test and launched two pow­er­ful mis­siles.

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