Concern as North Korea launches second missile
Challenge: Tests suggest Pyongyang is close to developing a nuclear arsenal
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.