North Korea: Ballistic missile test successful

Frederick Owens
May 20, 2017

According to North Korea state media KCNA, the Hwasong-12 rocket launched on Sunday to test the "capability of carrying nuclear warhead".

Why fire the missile at such a high altitude?

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in Beijing that Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the world should talk to North Korea rather than threaten it.

Last week, South Korean elected a new president, Mr Moon Jae-in, who advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang and said at his inauguration that he was willing "in the right circumstances" to visit the North to ease tensions.

China is the linchpin of Trump's strategy for halting North Korea's pursuit of a nuclear-tipped missile that could strike the USA mainland. Tokyo says the flight pattern could indicate a new type of missile.

It was different because it flew high more than twelve hundred miles up, and more than 400 miles out, close to Russian Federation.

KCNA further added that the simulated missile launch was conducted at the highest possible angle so as not to threaten the security of neighboring countries.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said on ABC television that the United States has been working well with China, Pyongyang's closest ally, and raised the possibility of new sanctions against North Korea, including on oil imports.

South Korea, Japan and the United States swiftly condemned the launch, which jeopardises new South Korean leader Moon Jae-in's willingness for dialogue with the North. That could strike US military bases in Guam.

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That suggests a range of 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) or more if flown for maximum distance, analysts said. During a 2016 test, the Musudan reached a height of 1,410 kilometers (880 miles).

An undated photo released 15 May 2017 by North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) showing the test-firing of a new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 on 14 May 2017.

North Korea is boasting of a successful weekend launch of a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper devoted half of its six-page Monday edition to coverage of the missile test, with vivid colour photographs of the launch and jubilant leader Kim Jong Un celebrating with military officers. Beijing is wary of piling on economic pressure that could cause North Korea's collapse, and it wasn't clear Monday if it would support new sanctions.

But its arsenal is growing, so too the pace of its tests and its threats to carry out a seventh nuclear test. It also claims to have perfected the warhead's homing and detonation systems under hard re-entry circumstances. In a show of force, the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

North Korea says it has no choice but to advance its nuclear and missile development to defend itself from attack. Firing the missile at high altitudes could also help North Korea test the technologies needed for warheads to withstand the re-entry through the earth's atmosphere.

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness - Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire", for instance - but Monday's claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North's goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland. According to KCNA, the missile test that took place northwest of Pyongyang was a success and was even supervised by a satisfied Kim Jong Un.

"As South Korea's diplomatic situation matures, North Korea should also show a more mature attitude, not a childish one, and contribute to (establishing a better) diplomatic relationship", said Jin Hyo-seon, 33, a painter.

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