S. Korean president inspects test-firing of home-grown ballistic missile

Frederick Owens
June 24, 2017

It's a twist on the typical pattern on the Korean Peninsula, where North Korean state media frequently issue reports about leader Kim Jong Un observing missile tests that it says are needed to combat South Korean and US hostility.

The recently elected progressive South Korean leader advocates balancing worldwide economic sanctions imposed on the Kim Jong Un government in the North for its continued nuclear and missile provocations, with non-political outreach, including sports diplomacy, to build trust and facilitate communication.

The UN Security Council earlier this month unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution imposing new targeted sanctions on a handful of North Korean officials and entities, in response to a series of ballistic missile tests this year that are banned under UN resolutions.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in oversaw the test firing of a new land-launched ballistic missile with an estimated range of 800 kilometers at 10:30 am Friday morning, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) announced in a statement on June 23.

North Korea has tested a rocket engine that could potentially be fitted to an intercontinental ballistic missile, a United States official told AFP on Thursday, amid soaring tensions over Kim Jong-Un's nuclear weapons program.

USA officials speaking anonymously to several news agencies said the latest engine test, on Thursday, could be one stage of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) engine that would be able to reach the US. "There are more people and more cars but nobody knows what that means", said the official.

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"We've said many times that China is making unremitting efforts to resolve the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, and plays an active and constructive role", he said.

The North Korean state newspaper Rodong Sinmun, on Thursday, called U.S. President Donald Trump a "lunatic" and a "reckless war maniac" and said he could mount a preemptive strike against North Korea to divert attention from the political crisis at home.

However, experts say Pyongyang could still be years away from have a reliable ICBM capability.

Also present at the Opening Ceremony were Chang Ung, North Korea's sole member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and Ri Yong-son, the North Korean head of the ITF. ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500km, but some are created to travel 10,000km or farther. Moon observed the test-firing of a new midrange missile the country is developing to cope with growing threats from North Korea.

The United States, meanwhile, is ramping up capabilities to defend against the threat from North Korea, staging its first-ever successful test to intercept an incoming ICBM-type missile in May.

Park didn't say how far the Hyunmoo-2 missile flew or where it landed, but said it accurately hit its target area.

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