North Korea con­ducts mis­sile test

An­a­lysts say Alaska in reach of weapon

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

SEOUL, South Korea — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion on Tues­day con­firmed North Korea’s claim that it had launched an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile, and it told Py­ongyang that the United States would use “the full range of ca­pa­bil­i­ties at our dis­posal against the grow­ing threat.”

The ad­min­is­tra­tion fol­lowed up that warn­ing this morn­ing with a joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in which U.S. and South Korean forces fired bal­lis­tic mis­siles in the wa­ters along the penin­sula’s east coast.

But North Korea reaf­firmed to­day that it would never de­vi­ate from its de­ter­mi­na­tion to bol­ster its nu­clear and mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties as long as the United States’ “hos­tile pol­icy” and “nu­clear threat” per­sisted.

The an­nounce­ment about the mis­sile’s range came hours af­ter a launch that the U.S. mil­i­tary said had sent the mis­sile aloft for 37 min­utes. That du­ra­tion, an­a­lysts said, sug­gested a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in the range of the North’s mis­siles, and it might al­low one to travel as far as 4,000 miles and hit Alaska.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, said the North’s mis­sile launch ear­lier in the day was a milestone in its ef­forts to build nu­clear weapons ca­pa­ble of hit­ting the U.S. main­land. The Korean Cen­tral News Agency said the coun­try’s ci­ti­zens were

happy with the “great tim­ing” of their leader’s de­ci­sion to “hit the ar­ro­gant Amer­i­cans in the nose” by con­duct­ing the first ICBM test on the eve of their In­de­pen­dence Day.

“I guess they are not too happy with the gift pack­age we sent them for the oc­ca­sion of their In­de­pen­dence Day,” the news agency quoted Kim as say­ing af­ter watch­ing the mis­sile test Tues­day. “We should of­ten send them gift pack­ages so they won’t be too bored.”

In a show of force di­rectly re­spond­ing to North Korea’s provo­ca­tion, U.S. and South Korean sol­diers fired “deep strike” pre­ci­sion mis­siles into South Korean ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters on Tues­day, U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cials in Seoul said. The mis­sile fir­ings demon­strated U.S.-South Korean sol­i­dar­ity, the U.S. 8th Army said in a state­ment.

The joint mis­sile ex­er­cise by the U.S. and South Korea was first pro­posed by South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jaein and en­dorsed by Trump, Moon’s of­fice said.

At the re­quest of the U.S., Ja­pan and South Korea, the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was to hold an emer­gency ses­sion this af­ter­noon. Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said that was part of a U.S. re­sponse that would in­clude “stronger mea­sures to hold the DPRK ac­count­able,” us­ing the ini­tials for the iso­lated na­tion’s for­mal name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea.

Un­der a se­ries of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions, North Korea is pro­hib­ited from de­vel­op­ing or test­ing bal­lis­tic mis­siles.

He said the U.S. “will never ac­cept a nu­clear-armed North Korea.”

The test comes just be­fore Trump will see key Asian lead­ers and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin later this week. North Korea was al­ready ex­pected to be a main sub­ject for meet­ings on the side­lines of the Group of 20 eco­nomic sum­mit, but the test adds ur­gency to a widen­ing U.S. cam­paign aimed at fur­ther iso­lat­ing North Korea.

The prime dan­ger from the U.S. view­point is the prospect of North Korea pair­ing a nu­clear war­head with an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile. The lat­est U.S. in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment is that the North prob­a­bly does not yet have that ca­pa­bil­ity — putting a small-enough nu­clear war­head atop an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

Still, U.S. pol­i­cy­mak­ers have long seen just the de­vel­op­ment of an in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile as a crit­i­cal thresh­old the North should not be al­lowed to cross.

580 MILES IN 40 MIN­UTES

The mis­sile de­parted the Banghyon air­field in the north­west­ern town of Ku­song and flew 578 miles be­fore land­ing in the sea be­tween North Korea and Ja­pan, the South Korean mil­i­tary said in a state­ment.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment said the mis­sile landed in its so-called ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone off its west­ern coast.

Most out­side and North Korean analy­ses of the mis­sile’s height, dis­tance and time in the air were roughly sim­i­lar.

U.S., South Korean and Ja­panese of­fi­cials say it flew for about 40 min­utes and reached an al­ti­tude of 1,500 miles, which would be longer and higher than any sim­i­lar North Korean test pre­vi­ously re­ported. It also cov­ered a dis­tance of about 580 miles.

North Korea said the mis­sile flew as high as 1,741 miles be­fore hit­ting a des­ig­nated tar­get in the ocean about 580 miles away from the launch site in the North’s north­west. It said the mis­sile flew for about 39 min­utes and was made at the high­est pos­si­ble an­gle.

Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary, how­ever, said the mis­sile flew con­sid­er­ably shorter and lower than oth­ers re­ported.

The launch comes af­ter a string of re­cent ac­tions by Py­ongyang, in­clud­ing a salvo of mis­siles last month and three tests in May. Kim has now launched more mis­siles in one year than his fa­ther and pre­de­ces­sor in the fam­ily dy­nasty did in 17 years in power.

North Korea has also con­ducted five nu­clear weapons tests since 2006, in­clud­ing two last year.

The mis­sile test adds a volatile new el­e­ment to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to curb North Korea’s nu­clear am­bi­tions, which have in­cluded naval drills off the Korean Penin­sula and pres­sure on China, Py­ongyang’s long­time ally. In a blunt phone call Sun­day, Trump warned Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping of China that the United States was pre­pared to act alone against North Korea.

Be­fore the an­nounce­ment by North Korea, Trump had noted the mis­sile launch on Twit­ter, sug­gest­ing that it was time for China to act de­ci­sively against the North and “end this non­sense once and for all.”

On Tues­day, Chi­nese of­fi­cials crit­i­cized the mis­sile test, say­ing it vi­o­lated U.N. rules.

But at the same time, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment of­fered no signs that it was pre­par­ing to take more dras­tic ac­tion against the North, urg­ing a re­turn to diplo­matic talks in­stead.

CHINA AND RUS­SIA

Later in Moscow, where Xi was vis­it­ing, Putin said both had agreed to ad­vance a joint pro­posal to set­tle the Korea cri­sis by si­mul­ta­ne­ously freez­ing the North’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams and the joint mil­i­tary drills by the U.S. and South Korea.

North Korea views the ex­er­cises as prepa­ra­tion for an in­va­sion and has re­peat­edly de­manded their can­cel­la­tion. It says it needs nu­clear weapons and pow­er­ful mis­siles to cope with what it calls ris­ing U.S. mil­i­tary threats.

In re­marks broad­cast on Rus­sian tele­vi­sion, Putin called a so­lu­tion pro­posed with China “a joint for­eign-pol­icy pri­or­ity.”

Rus­sia, which like China bor­ders North Korea, has re­peat­edly called for a diplo­matic so­lu­tion. Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergei Ryabkov warned that the launch would give “more ar­gu­ments to those who seek pre­texts for new es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions,” ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­fax news agency.

The Chi­nese and Rus­sian for­eign min­istries urged other na­tions to cre­ate a “peace­ful at­mos­phere of mu­tual trust” to en­cour­age talks be­tween the two sides on com­mit­ments not to use force and to make the Korean Penin­sula free of nu­clear weapons.

Re­gional dis­ar­ma­ment talks on North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram have been dead­locked since 2009, when the North pulled out of the ne­go­ti­a­tions to protest in­ter­na­tional con­dem­na­tion over a long-range rocket launch.

In an ap­par­ent hint at the U.S., Bei­jing and Moscow spoke against the “non-re­gional pow­ers’ mil­i­tary pres­ence in North­east Asia and its buildup un­der the pre­text of coun­ter­ing North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams.”

They specif­i­cally op­posed U.S. mis­sile de­fense sys­tems in the re­gion, say­ing their de­ploy­ment “se­ri­ously dam­ages strate­gic se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of re­gional pow­ers, in­clud­ing Rus­sia and China” and hin­ders peace and sta­bil­ity.

Xi’s visit to Rus­sia came amid a flare-up of ten­sions be­tween China and the U.S. over an Amer­i­can de­stroyer sail­ing within the ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters of a Chi­nese-claimed is­land in the South China Sea.

Be­fore ar­riv­ing in Moscow on Mon­day, Xi warned Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump that “some neg­a­tive fac­tors” were hurt­ing U.S.-China re­la­tions.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe sharply crit­i­cized North Korea for the launch. “The lat­est launch clearly showed that the threat is grow­ing,” Abe said.

In re­marks to the news me­dia, he vowed to work closely with the United States and South Korea, but called on China and Rus­sia to do more.

“I’d like to strongly urge in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety’s co­op­er­a­tion on the North Korea is­sue and urge China’s chair­man, Xi Jin­ping, and Rus­sia’s Pres­i­dent Putin to take more con­struc­tive mea­sures,” Abe said.

Abe, who talked by phone with Trump on Mon­day, said the two lead­ers plan to seek co­op­er­a­tion from world lead­ers when they at­tend the G-20 sum­mit.

In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Choe Sang-Hun, Austin Ramzy, Jane Per­lez, Mo­toko Rich, Javier C. Her­nan­dez, Ivan Nechep­urenko and Rick Glad­stone of The New York

Times; by Hyung-Jin Kim, Foster Klug, Mari Ya­m­aguchi, Cather­ine Lucey, Josh Lederman, Robert Burns and Vladimir Isachenkov of The As­so­ci­ated Press; and by Anne Gearan, Emily Rauhala, Joby Warrick, Shirley Feng and Yang Liu of The Wash­ing­ton Post.

AP/LEE JIN-MAN

Peo­ple watch lo­cal tele­vi­sion news Tues­day show­ing what was said to be the launch of a Hwa­song-14 in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile, aired by North Korea’s KRT, at Seoul Train Sta­tion in Seoul, South Korea.

On the Web North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram nwadg.com/northko­rea

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