New N. Korea launch­ing

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - METRO RTD -

South Korea says North has fired another mis­sile over Ja­pan.

SEOUL— North Korea fired an in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile over Ja­pan into the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean on Fri­day, the U.S. and South Korean mil­i­taries said — its long­est such flight and a clear mes­sage of de­fi­ance to its ri­vals.

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 U.S. ally Ja­pan. It tested its first-ever in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles in July.

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 U.S. troops in Asia and the U.S. 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 U.S. city to pro­tect its Asian al­lies.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the mis­sile trav­eled about 2,300 miles and reached a max­i­mum height of 478 miles.

North Korea has re­peat­edly vowed to con­tinue these tests amid what it calls U.S. hos­til­ity — by which it means the pres­ence of tens of thou­sands of U.S. troops in Ja­pan and South Korea. Ro­bust diplo­macy on the is­sue has been stalled for years, and there’s 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.

Fri­day’s mis­sile, which trig­gered sirens and warn­ing mes­sages in north­ern Ja­pan but caused no ap­par­ent dam­age to air­craft or ships, was the sec­ond fired over Ja­pan in less than a month. North Korea con­ducted its sixth and most pow­er­ful nu­clear test on Sept. 3.

The mis­sile was launched from Su­nan, the lo­ca­tion of Py­ongyang’s in­ter­na­tional Lo­cal fo­ru­monN. Korea

At RTD Pub­lic Square, speak­ers de­bate strate­gies.

air­port and the ori­gin of the ear­lier mis­sile that flew over Ja­pan. An­a­lysts have spec­u­lated the new test was of the same in­ter­me­di­at­erange mis­sile launched in that ear­lier flight, the Hwa­song-12.

That mis­sile is linked to North Korea’s dec­la­ra­tion that it means to con­tain the U.S. Pa­cific is­land ter­ri­tory of Guam, which is the home of im­por­tant U.S. mil­i­tary as­sets and ap­pears well within the Hwa­song-12’s range.

Fri­day’s mis­sile test was met with the usual out­rage. South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in or­dered his mil­i­tary to con­duct a live­fire bal­lis­tic mis­sile drill in re­sponse to the North Korean launch and in­structed gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to pur­sue “stern” mea­sures to dis­cour­age Py­ongyang from fur­ther provo­ca­tions. Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis both called the launch a reck­less act.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sched­uled an emer­gency closed-door meet­ing to be held Fri­day af­ter­noon in New York.

The North Amer­i­can Aero­space De­fense Com­mand and the U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand said the mis­sile posed no threat to North Amer­ica or to Guam.

South Korean ex­perts have said North Korea wants to make mis­siles fly­ing over Ja­pan an ac­cepted norm as it seeks to win more mil­i­tary space in a re­gion dom­i­nated by its en­e­mies.

North Korea ini­tially flight-tested the Hwa­song-12 and the ICBM model Hwa­song-14 at highly lofted an­gles to re­duce their range and avoid neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

The two launches over Ja­pan in­di­cate North Korea is mov­ing to­ward us­ing an­gles close to op­er­a­tional to de­ter­mine whether its war­heads can sur­vive the harsh con­di­tions of at­mo­spheric re-en­try and det­o­nate prop­erly.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved new sanc­tions ear­lier this week over the nu­clear test.

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