N. Korea launches ballistic missile, four days after South Korean President's inauguration
2017-05-14 12:38:07 KST
Korea has carried out its first military provocation since the launch of the new administration in South Korea just four days ago.
This is the seventh missile provocation by Pyongyang this year alone, and comes just two weeks after a missile test that South Korean and US officials said failed.
South Korea's military confirmed that the North launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning, around 5:30 a.m. Seoul time, from an area near the city of Kusong, about 120 kilometers northwest of the regime's capital.
According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile flew some 700 kilometers, and judging by the flight distance, military experts are looking at the launch as a successful one.
The exact type of missile it was is not yet clear, but the U.S. Pacific Command said the flight was not consistent with that of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
However, Japan's defense minister said that considering the missile's trajectory there is a chance it was an ICBM or even a new type of missile.
According to Japan, the missile reached an altitude of more than 2-thousand kilometers in a matter of about 30 minutes before falling into the East Sea in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, suggesting it could have been a bigger missile like an ICBM launched at a steep, or "lofted," angle.
In other words, if that same missile was launched on a standard trajectory, it could have easily reached a distance of over 4-thousand kilometers.
If that's true, the missile could have reached American soil, because the distance to Alaska is about 57-hundred kilometers and to Hawaii about 75-hundred kilometers, while an ICBM has a range of about 5 or 6-thousand kilometers.
However, experts also believe it's too soon to jump to the conclusion that Pyongyang has tested its own intercontinental ballistic missile.
"To have an ICBM, you have to conduct a lot of tests. This is very time-consuming.
Japan just make this kind of conclusion out of the distance and the altitude.
That does not actually guarantee it will be an ICBM.
You need more sophisticated capability to produce ICBM."
Experts also say Sunday's missile launch may be North Korea's way of gaining leverage in future negotiations with the U.S. and South Korea, and testing South Korea's new President.
Hwang Hojun, Arirang News.
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