May 15, 2017 09:33
North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Sunday that flew some 700 km before splashing into the East Sea.
The missile was fired from Kusong, North Pyongan Province around 5:27 a.m. Sunday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff here.
The provocation comes just a few days after South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, said he would be willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang and after U.S. naval forces massed in waters off the peninsula.
Moon called an emergency meeting of the National Security Council, telling officials to respond "resolutely." The White House in a statement said, "Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea."
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada speculated that it was probably a new model and reached a height of some 2,000 km.
Assuming it was deliberately launched at a high angle, it would be capable of flying some 5,000 km at a lower angle of 30 to 45 degrees, putting Alaska within its range, according to a military source here.
On Monday, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency claimed the country successfully tested-fired a new ground-to-ground ballistic missile that puts the U.S. mainland within striking range. It said leader Kim Jong-un observed the launch of the rocket, called the Hwasong-12.
But U.S. Pacific Command, based in Hawaii, earlier said the flight "was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile."
In June last year, the North succeeded in testing a missile with an estimated range of 3,500 km capable of hitting Guam, and in February, it succeeded in firing another with a range of 3,000 km that uses solid rather than liquid fuel, which makes launch preparation time much faster.
This may be the first time a North Korean missile reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km after the Musudan missile last June reached 1,413 km.
The latest provocation makes it hard for Moon to embark on a more conciliatory North Korea policy. Moon "strongly condemned" the launch. "Dialogue is only possible when North Korea changes its attitude," he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump also put the brakes on any thaw, telling NBC on Friday that Moon is "more open to discussion. I don't mind discussion, but it's under certain circumstances."
Meanwhile, Matthew Pottinger, a top Asia adviser in the White House arrives in Seoul on Monday to discuss a meeting between Moon and Trump.
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