Sunday, 21 October, 2018

SKorea: Rival N.Korea launches ballistic missile

Korean People's Army personnel wave after a military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung SKorea: Rival N.Korea launches ballistic missile
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2017, 13:22

North Korea's long-term bid to develop a credible nuclear attack threat to the United States mainland saw it launch on Sunday (Monday in Manila) what appeared to be its longest-range missile yet.

The launch was of a "new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket" named the Hwasong-12, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Wood said China was key given that 90 percent of North Korea's trade was with that country.

Moon, the first liberal leader in Seoul in almost a decade, said as he took his oath of office that he'd be willing to visit the North if the circumstances were right.

Japanese officials say the missile flew for about 30 minutes, traveling about 800 kilometers (500 miles) and reaching an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles).

"The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead", it said.

Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, a jubilant North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned that his country's weapons could strike the US mainland and Pacific holdings.

The test is the 10th missile launch of this year and follows a string of odd activity from Kim Jong-un.

"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the US base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

The launch came as troops from the U.S., Japan and two European nations gather near Guam for drills that are partly a message to North Korea.

The United States called the missile launch a message to South Korea, days after Moon took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue and keep up worldwide pressure to impede the North's arms pursuit.

"It is considered an IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile) of enhanced calibre", he said, referring to a class of missile created to travel up to 3,000 to 4,000 km (1,860 to 2,485 miles).

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Footage aired by the state TV station showed that it was launched on what appeared to be a makeshift firing stand after being moved on a transport erector launcher (TEL), a move seen as aiming at avoiding damage due to possible failure.

The Sunday launch of the Hwangson-12 medium-range ballistic missile was successful. The missile looks like the one unveiled at a military parade in April. South Korea's military also played down the North's claim of technical progress on atmospheric re-entry.

In a unanimously agreed statement, the 15-member council said it was of vital importance that North Korea show "sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action and stressed the importance of working to reduce tensions".

Lee declined to give the government's assessment of North Korea's intention, stating the need to take into account factors related to inter-Korean relations, including possible dialogue.

The launch took place at a region named Kusong located northwest of the capital, Pyongyang, where the North previously test-launched its intermediate-range missile it is believed to be developing.

Further nuclear tests are unacceptable, the Russian president has added and called for resuming dialogue with North Korea.

Outside militaries and experts will closely analyze what the North fired.

Two senior national security advisers to Trump will meet Moon's top foreign policy adviser, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul on Tuesday to discuss a summit of the leaders and the North's missile test, a source with direct knowledge of the meeting said.

He recalled that some time ago North Korea said it would halt its nuclear program, but not all participants of talks had enough patience.

The North could be testing ICBM subsystems in a "low-key manner" to "hedge" against the possibility of United States military action, he added. He added, however, that in his view, "there is still a window for trying to negotiate with North Korea... at a point which it is much less of a threat to the U.S".

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned North Korea's latest test-firing of a ballistic missile.

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