North Korea launched another missile — and it landed close to Russia
North Korea fired yet another ballistic missile on Sunday (its 10th missile launch over six tests this year), days after its neighbor South Korea elected a new president who has called for greater dialogue with Pyongyang.
The missile’s specifics are still being analyzed by experts, but Japanese officials determined that it reached an altitude of 1,245 miles during its 30-minutes flight, covering a distance of 430 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan. U.S. officials said that the missile landed in the sea about 60 miles south of Russia, CNN reports.
“It is possibly a new type of missile,” Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada told reporters in Tokyo. Yet it’s not believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile of the type that the U.S. fears North Korea is developing. The U.S. military is still assessing the missile launch, but has not changed its national security threat assessment, Reuters reports.
The success and range of this latest missile test, if Japan’s early analysis holds up, would heighten fears that Pyongyang is closer than previously thought to the sort of capability that would allow it to strike U.S. bases in the Pacific, like those in Guam, BBC reports.
North Korea is forbidden from developing ballistic missiles under a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions — resolutions that it has consistently ignored.
The new South Korean president, Moon Jae-In, called for a meeting of top officials in response to the test, but emphasized that he continued to be open to dialogue with the North. “We keep our door open for dialogue with North Korea, but we must act decisively against North Korean provocations so that it will not miscalculate,” Moon was quoted as saying by his office, according to the New York Times.
China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced concern over the launch, with Xi saying that both countries are playing an “important role as a balancing power” in seeking to defuse conflict both on the Korean peninsula, according to the Associated Press. The missile launch came while leaders from 29 countries were meeting in Beijing at a summit where China is advocating greater trade between Asia, Europe, and Africa. China, North Korea’s most important ally and key trading partner, has sought to ease tensions over Pyongyang’s missile defense program.
The White House, meanwhile, released a statement calling North Korea a “flagrant menace” and called for the implementation of stronger sanctions. The terse statement also attempted to interpret how Russia, which along with China is a vital trading partner to the reclusive country, might respond to the missile launch.
“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,” the statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer read.
On Saturday, a top North Korean diplomat told reporters in Beijing that her country would be willing to open talks with the U.S., but did not elaborate on the country’s conditions for opening communication. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters Sunday that the missile launch was the result of Kim Jong-Un’s “state of paranoia” following the presidential election in South Korea. Haley added that firing a missile was not a viable path to a meeting with President Donald Trump.
Cover: A South Korean army soldier walks by a TV news program showing a file image of missiles being test-launched by North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, May 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)