N. Korea launches bal­lis­tic mis­sile that trav­eled about 450 miles into sea

The Washington Post Sunday - - THE WORLD - BY ANNA FI­FIELD anna.fi­field@wash­post.com

tokyo — North Korea fired a bal­lis­tic mis­sile early Sun­day, send­ing it from a launch site near its border with China some 450 miles into the sea be­tween the Korean Penin­sula and Ja­pan.

It was launched from the same site where North Korea fired two mys­tery mis­siles that some an­a­lysts thought could have been in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of reach­ing the main­land United States.

But the U.S. mil­i­tary said that the flight pat­tern was “not con­sis­tent” with an ICBM and did not threaten the United States.

Re­gard­less, the ap­par­ent suc­cess of the launch and the steady pace of fir­ings will only heighten ten­sions in the re­gion.

Sun­day’s launch is the first since Moon Jae-in, a lib­eral who is pro­mot­ing en­gage­ment with North Korea, took of­fice as South Korea’s new pres­i­dent Wed­nes­day. Moon im­me­di­ately con­vened an emer­gency meet­ing of his na­tional se­cu­rity coun­cil to dis­cuss the launch.

It also comes af­ter re­peated warn­ings from Pres­i­dent Trump to North Korea to stop — and China to crack down on its er­rant neigh­bor. Trump will likely urge Bei­jing to use its lever­age over Py­ongyang to pun­ish it for this lat­est provo­ca­tion.

In a state­ment late Satur­day, the White House said, “North Korea has been a fla­grant men­ace for far too long . . . . Let this lat­est provo­ca­tion serve as a call for all na­tions to im­ple­ment far stronger sanc­tions against North Korea.”

The state­ment also noted the mis­sile’s prox­im­ity to Rus­sia: “With the mis­sile im­pact­ing so close to Rus­sian soil — in fact, closer to Rus­sia than to Ja­pan — the Pres­i­dent can­not imag­ine that Rus­sia is pleased.”

An­a­lysts were still work­ing to iden­tify the kind of mis­sile launched Sun­day morn­ing lo­cal time.

U.S. Pa­cific Com­mand, based in Hawaii, said it had de­tected and as­sessed the mis­sile, and “the flight was not con­sis­tent with an in­tercon­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.” How­ever, it did not state what kind of mis­sile it ap­peared to be.

“The North Amer­i­can Aero­space De­fense Com­mand de­ter­mined the mis­sile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North Amer­ica,” Pa­cific Com­mand spokesman Rob Shu­ford said in a state­ment.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the mis­sile was fired shortly af­ter 5 a.m. North Korea time, from Ku­song, an area not far from the border with China.

In Tokyo, the Ja­panese gov­ern­ment said that the mis­sile flew for 30 min­utes. It strongly con­demned the “ab­so­lutely un­ac­cept­able” be­hav­ior.

“These re­peated mis­sile launches by North Korea are a grave threat to our coun­try and are in clear vi­o­la­tion of U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions,” Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe told re­porters.

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