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North Korean Missile Test Condemned by Tokyo, Seoul

By Steve Herman May 13, 2017

North Korea launched a missile Sunday in an unusual high-altitude ballistic path that indicated it might be a new type of medium-range rocket capable of flying up to 4,500 kilometers (about 2,800 miles).

Japan and South Korea quickly condemned North Korea's action as a grave threat to the region and a violation of U.N. resolutions concerning North Korea's arms programs.

From Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile was fired in a high-angle orbit that reached an altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers. It flew for 30 minutes, she added, and came down in the Sea of Japan after a total flight of about 700 kilometers, splashing down at a point about 400 kilometers from the east coast of North Korea.

In Washington, a White House statement said President Donald Trump "has been briefed on the latest missile test by North Korea." The statement said, "With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased."

The short statement ended by saying "North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long. South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with us. The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea."

Possibly a new type of missile

Inada said it appeared the North Korean projectile could be a new type of missile. There was no immediate comment from Pyongyang.

Analysts from the Union of Concerned Scientists and other sources said the parameters of the rocket's flight, as measured by the Japanese military and the U.S. Pacific Command, pointed to a rocket with a maximum range of up to 4,500 kilometers, if flown on a standard trajectory.

Guam is 3,400 kilometers from North Korea, and until now had been considered beyond the range of the most powerful rocket North Korea is known to have developed, the Musudan, with a range of about 3,000 kilometers.

South Korea, Japan denounce launch

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in, sworn in just days ago, denounced the launch as a "reckless provocation" by Pyongyang. Meeting in Seoul with his top advisers, Moon said the timing of the launch was particularly regrettable, coming so soon after his inauguration and his pledge to try to improve ties with the North.

Japan issued a strong protest immediately after the launch, declaring North Korea's repeated missile tests are a grave threat to its neighbors and a clear violation of U.N. resolutions. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo would remain in close touch with the U.S. and South Korea about developments in North Korea.

In Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific Command confirmed the rocket launch but said the unidentified projectile did not appear to be large enough to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, a weapon that North Korea claims it is developing.

Talks had been raised

Just one day earlier, a senior North Korean diplomat had said Pyongyang would be willing to talk with the United States about the two countries' disputes, under the right conditions.

Choe Son Hui, the North Korean foreign ministry's director general for U.S. affairs, raised the issue of talks when she spoke with reporters in Beijing while returning home from a trip to Norway.

"We'll have dialogue if the conditions are there," Choe said, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. While in Oslo, Choe met with American academics and former U.S. officials.

After another diplomatic crisis last month triggered by North Korean missile tests, Trump had warned there was a possible "major, major conflict" brewing with Pyongyang, but that he hoped for a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

The U.S. president later said he would be willing to meet with the North's leader, Kim Jong Un, under the right circumstances.

In the aftermath of the latest North Korean missile launch, meanwhile, American, European and Japanese military units gathered for war games in a group of remote U.S. islands in the Pacific Ocean. The exercises are meant to warn North Korea not to test the allies' military might.



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