Pyongyang’s increasing missile and nuclear capabilities are raising concerns in Washington, Tokyo and Seoul. The totalitarian regime is on a collision course with the US and its allies on the key issue of security.
North Korea test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile that traveled about 500 kilometers (310 miles) Sunday, just one week after a previous launch provoked international condemnation and threats of new sanctions from the United Nations.
South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council to discuss the North’s latest missile test, according to the Yonhap news agency.
“Our military is closely monitoring signs for additional provocation by the North Korean military and we are keeping a full military readiness,” a statement said.
The South Korean Foreign Ministry called the launch “reckless and irresponsible.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will raise the issue of North Korean missile launches at the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Italy this month.
It was not immediately clear what type of missile was launched Sunday, but it did not have the range of the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile fired on May 14. That missile traveled some 700 kilometers further than any previous ballistic missile launched by Pyongyang.
The North claims the Hwasong-12 could carry a nuclear warhead.
Analysts said the missile represented a significant advancement in the North’s weapons capabilities as it continues efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.
The missile launches and the threat of a new nuclear test have ratcheted-up tensions with the US government. President Donald Trump has vowed that an ICBM launch by the North “won’t happen.”
Pyongyang has long had medium-range missiles that can reach targets across South Korea and Japan.
US warns others
With a reported range of 4,500 kilometers, the Hwasong-12 also puts US bases on the Pacific island of Guam within reach.
The UN Security Council held a closed-door meeting last Tuesday to discuss harsher sanctions against Pyongyang after last weekend’s missile test.
Nikki Haley, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, said the US and China are working on a new sanctions resolution and warned that all countries must take more aggressive measures against Pyongyang or face measures themselves.
“We all have to send a sign to North Korea, and that is: ‘No more. This is not playtime. This is serious. These threats are not welcome,'” Haley told reporters.
“If you are a country that is supplying or supporting North Korea, we will call you out on it,” Haley said.
The North has insisted that it needs missiles and nuclear weapons to deter any attack by the US.
The North Korean state newspaper Minju Joson threatened more launches on Sunday.
“If the US persists in confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea), the latter will show how the crime-woven history of the US is put to an end,” the statement said.
“Many more ‘Juche weapons’ capable of striking the US will be launched from this land. This is the DPRK’s answer to the Trump administration,” it said, referring to the national philosophy of “Juche” or self-reliance.
bik/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)