N. Korea fires another mis­sile over Ja­pan

The Maui News - - FRONT PAGE - By KIM TONG-HYUNG and FOSTER KLUG The As­so­ci­ated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired an in­ter­me­di­ate-range mis­sile over Ja­pan into the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean to­day, U.S. and South Korean mil­i­taries said, its long­est-ever 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, threat­ened to send mis­siles into the waters around Guam 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 seem 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.

To­day’s mis­sile, which Seoul said was the 19th bal­lis­tic mis­sile launched by North Korea this year, trig­gered sirens and warn­ing mes­sages in north­ern Ja­pan but caused no ap­par­ent dam­age to air­craft or ships. It was the sec­ond mis­sile 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 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.

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.

To­day’s mis­sile test was met with the usual out­rage. South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in or­dered his mil­i­tary to con­duct a live-fire bal­lis­tic mis­sile drill in re­sponse to the North Korean launch and in­structed gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to pur­sue “stern” mea­sures to dis­cour­age Py­ongyang from fur­ther provo­ca­tions. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said one of the two mis­siles fired in the drill hit a sea tar­get about 155 miles away, which was ap­prox­i­mately the dis­tance to Py­ongyang’s Su­nan, but the other failed in flight shortly af­ter launch.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe and U.S. De­fense Sec­re­tary Jim Mat­tis both called the North Korean launch a reck­less act.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sched­uled an emer­gency closed-door meet­ing to be held this af­ter­noon in New York. Trump has not com­mented.

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.

North Korea’s Au­gust launch over Ja­pan came weeks af­ter it threat­ened to fire a salvo of Hwa­song-12s to­ward Guam and bracket the is­land with “en­velop­ing” mis­sile fire. The North’s lat­est launch might be an at­tempt to demon­strate its abil­ity to fire a mis­sile close to Guam, which is 2,112 miles away from North Korea, said Kim Dong-yub, a for­mer South Korean mil­i­tary of­fi­cial who is now an an­a­lyst at Seoul’s In­sti­tute for Far Eastern Stud­ies.

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 and are thus less de­tectable be­fore­hand.

North Korea claimed its lat­est nu­clear test was a det­o­na­tion of a ther­monu­clear weapon built for its ICBMs, which could po­ten­tially reach deep into the U.S. Main­land when per­fected.

The U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil unan­i­mously ap­proved new sanc­tions ear­lier this week over the nu­clear test. They ban all tex­tile ex­ports and pro­hibit any coun­try from au­tho­riz­ing new work per­mits for North Korean work­ers — two key sources of hard cur­rency. They also pro­hibit North Korea from im­port­ing all nat­u­ral gas liq­uids and con­den­sates, and cap Py­ongyang’s im­ports of crude oil and re­fined pe­tro­leum prod­ucts.

North Korea’s For­eign Min­istry de­nounced the U.N. sanc­tions and said the North will “re­dou­ble its ef­forts to in­crease its strength to safe­guard the coun­try’s sovereignty and right to ex­is­tence.”

AP photo

A man dis­trib­utes an ex­tra edi­tion of a news­pa­per re­port­ing North Korea’s mis­sile launch to­day at Shim­bashi Sta­tion in Tokyo. South Korea’s mil­i­tary said North Korea fired an uniden­ti­fied mis­sile to­day from its cap­i­tal, Py­ongyang, that flew over Ja­pan be­fore land­ing in the north­ern Pa­cific Ocean.

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