Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Moon Gives Grave Warning to N. Korea over Missile Launch

Francis Olson | 14 May, 2017, 23:45

South Korean military said that the missile flew some 700km after being test-fired from a site north of Pyongyang, which shows the test was successful.

The launch early on Sunday took place at a region, named Kusong, where the North previously test-launched intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing.

The launch also comes as troops from the U.S., Japan and two European nations gather on remote U.S. islands in the Pacific for drills that are partly a message to North Korea. The previous missile launch from this territory was carried out in February.

Moon Jae-in says dialogue and pressure must be used to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and stop the North's weapons pursuit. He is widely seen as favoring engagement with Pyongyang over confrontation.

North Korea needs tests to flawless its missile program, but it also is thought to time its launches to come after the elections of new US and South Korean presidents in what analysts say are efforts meant to gauge a new administration's reaction.

Most experts have doubted that the North has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with that range. A further missile launched on April 29 fell on land within North Korea.

According to the government's top spokesman, the missile is thought to have flown for about 30 minutes over a distance of around 800 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan. For example, when Pyongyang fired a satellite launch version of the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile in February a year ago, it flew only for 14 minutes though it traveled as long as 2,500 km before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

Sunday's launch comes days after the swearing in of new South Korean President Moon Jae In, who has advocated trying to fix relations with the North.

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"If that report ... is correct, then the launch may indeed represent a new missile with a long range", said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, referring the estimated altitude of more than 2,000 km.

According to senior presidential secretary Yoon Young-chan, Moon expressed "deep regret" over the fact this "provocation" occurred just days after a new government was sworn in in South Korea. Moon called the launch a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions and said he will deal resolutely against such provocations while leaving the door open for dialogue. South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with us.

He said the government strongly condemned this "grave challenge to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the global community", his spokesman Yoon Young-Chan said.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party, said the regime will continue building up its military for stronger self-defense as "the imperialist U.S. and its followers are notching up pressure on us" and "driving the situation of the Korean Peninsula out of control by warmongering".

Earlier Sunday, Japan issued a protest to North Korea through its embassy in Beijing over the launch, which the Japanese Defense Ministry said may have been of a new type of missile.

But Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California, said at the time that there was an "even chance" that they were intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The missile flew some 700 kilometers for half an hour and dropped in the East Sea.

He had said in his inauguration speech that he was willing to visit Pyongyang "in the right circumstances" to defuse tensions on the peninsula, with Pyongyang and Washington exchanging hostile rhetoric.

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