North Korea conducts new missile test

South Korea's Moon expresses deep regret over "reckless provocation." Japan's defence minister says missile reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km and could be a new type. US says the projectile's flight was not consistent with an ICBM.

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

North Korea has attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles four consecutive times in the past two months but has conducted a variety of missile testing since the beginning of last year at an unprecedented pace.

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile, the US, Japan and South Korea said late on Saturday, in an apparent bid to test the South Korea's new president who backs engagement with Pyongyang.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in "strongly condemned" North Korea's latest missile launch as a "reckless provocation," the presidential office said on Sunday.

The launch represented a "clear violation" of UN Security Council resolutions the statement added.

"The president... expressed deep regret over the North's reckless provocation staged only days after the beginning of the new administration in the South," his spokesman said after Moon chaired his first National Security Council meeting as president in response to the missile test.

The missile was launched from a site near the northwestern city of Kusong at around 5:30 am local time Sunday (2030 GMT Saturday) and flew about 700 kilometres (435 miles), according to the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"The South and US are analysing more details about the missile," it said in a statement without elaborating.

"Flight was not consistent with an ICBM"

The US military's Pacific Command said on Saturday that North Korea had fired a missile near Kusong, but added that the flight was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The missile launch was detected at approximately 10:30 am Hawaii time Saturday (2030 GMT), and landed in the Sea of Japan, a US PACOM spokesperson said in a statement.

"The type of missile is being assessed and the flight was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile," the spokesperson said.

US President Donald Trump called for tougher sanctions on North Korea. 

"Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea," the White House said in a brief statement.

"The missile impacted "so close to Russian soil -– in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan -– the president cannot imagine that Russia is pleased." 

New type of missile?

Japan's Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said that the altitude of the missile exceeded 2,000 kilometres, adding that North Korea could have fired a new type of missile.  

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew for 30 minutes and dropped in the sea between the North's east coast and Japan.

He added that North Korea's firing of a ballistic missile was a violation of UN resolutions and that Japan strongly protested the action. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated the protest in comments to reporters.

China calls for "restraint"

China called for "restraint" after the latest missile test, warning against ramping up tensions in the region.

"China opposes the DPRK's violation of the (UN) Security Council's resolutions," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"All relevant parties should exercise restraint and refrain from further aggravating tensions in the region," it said.

Sunday's launch is the first in two weeks since the last attempt to fire a missile ended in a failure just minutes into flight.

The launch is the first since a new liberal president took office in South Korea on Wednesday saying dialogue as well as pressure must be used to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and stop the North's weapons pursuit.

North Korea has attempted but failed to test-launch ballistic missiles four consecutive times in the past two months but has conducted a variety of missile testing since the beginning of last year at an unprecedented pace.

Weapons experts and government officials believe that the North has accomplished some technical progress with those tests.

US President Donald Trump warned in an interview with Reuters in late April that a "major, major conflict" with the North was possible, but he would prefer a diplomatic outcome to the dispute over its nuclear and missile programmes. 

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies