North Korea launches new ballistic missile during Abe visit to US–report

February 13 2017 10:51 AM

North Korea says it has successfully completed the launch of a new ballistic missile, according to a CNN report quoting from state-run media.

The Pukguksong-2, a medium long-range ballistic missile, was test fired on Sunday, February 12, (local time) under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, KCNA.

South Korea and the United States confirmed the launch also on Sunday.

A US official said the missile traveled 500 kilometers (310 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, and that it was launched from North Pyongan province.

Intermediate-range ballistic missiles typically travel from 3,000 to 5,500 kilometers (1,864 to 3,417 miles).

KCNA also reported Kim was present at the site and personally gave the order for the launch, which was the first missile test by Pyongyang since US President Donald Trump took office.

The United Nations Security Council said it planned to hold consultations on an “urgent basis” Monday afternoon, Feb. 13, regarding North Korea, according to the US Mission to the United Nations.

The meeting was requested by the United States, South Korea and Japan — whose Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was visiting President Trump in the United States when the launch occurred.

“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable. North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Abe told a news conference at Palm Beach, Florida.

North Korea is prohibited from carrying out ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions aimed in part at curbing the country’s development of nuclear weapons.

Trump spoke after Abe and gave a one-sentence statement: “I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100%.”

Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said the fact the launch came as Abe met with Trump made it “a clear provocation to Japan and the region.”

Tokyo has already lodged protests against North Korea via its embassy in Beijing, he said.

‘Punitive actions’

KCNA described the missile as a “Korean style new type strategic weapon system, ” capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and capable of “evading interception.”

The report by KCNA said Kim “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means which adds to the tremendous might of the country.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNN the missile appeared to be a modified intermediate-range Musudan level missile. Earlier analysis had guessed it to be a shorter-range Rodong.
They ruled out the possibility that it was a longer-range intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM — which are usually designed to carry nuclear warheads — based on the flight distance.

In January, US and South Korean officials told CNN that North Korea might be readying two ICBMs for a test launch in the near future, though some analysts dispute how close Pyongang actually is to testing such a missile.

Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling said Sunday’s test would help the North Koreans improve their missile technology, and could help in their development of an ICBM.

“That’s the goal of the North Korean politicians,” he said.

“This intermediate ballistic missile is certainly dangerous. It has a greater range than some of the Musudan missiles that they have been testing prior to that. And it’s not only a concern for the United States to hit the mainland, but it also has concerns for all of our Asia partners.”

Pyongyang has been steadily working to improve its missile and weapons capability, conducting a fifth nuclear test in September.

Many experts think North Korea is a ways away from being able to put a nuclear warhead on its missiles, which would make it a global threat. Still, US commanders say they need to be prepared for the possibility.

“Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster,” Admiral Harry Harris, the head of the US military’s Pacific Command, said in a December speech.