North Korea Says Launch Was New Type Of Missile, Warns U.S.
RFE/RL May 14, 2017
North Korea claimed that it has successfully tested a new type of mid-range to long-range missile, and warned the United States that it is in its "sighting range" for a strike.
The official KCNA news agency said on May 15 that it was a test of the abilities of a "newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead."
It said the May 14 launch was supervised by leader Kim Jong Un, who warned the United States not to misjudge the country's military capabilities.
North Korea's latest ballistic missile test triggered an international outcry, with the European Union and NATO describing it as a "threat to international peace and security," and China voicing concern about mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was opposed to any new countries acquiring nuclear weapons, but that the world should talk to North Korea rather than "intimidating" it.
The missile flew more than 787 kilometers and reached an altitude of 2,112 kilometers, KCNA said, basically matching what officials in South Korea and Japan had determined earlier.
The missile landed in the Sea of Japan surrounded by the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the Russian Far East.
"The test-fire aimed at verifying the tactical and technological specifications of the newly developed ballistic rocket capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead," KCNA said.
Experts said the distance flown by the missile would suggest a range of 4,500 kilometers if flown for maximum distance, putting a U.S. base in Guam within its capabilities.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, told ABC TV that Kim was "in a state of paranoia."
"He's incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him," Haley said.
In a tweet, she added, "There are no excuses that justify N. Korea's actions. This was close to home for Russia. China can't expect dialogue. This threat is real."
Speaking during his visit to China, Putin said Russia considers North Korea's missile launches and nuclear tests to be "counterproductive, harmful, and dangerous."
"We need to return to a dialogue with North Korea, stop intimidating it, and find peaceful solutions," he also said.
Russia's Defense Ministry said the North Korean missile crashed some 500 kilometers away from the city of Vladivostok in Russia's Far East, but Putin said the missile "presented no threat to us."
In Washington, the White House called North Korea a "flagrant menace" and said "the United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea."
The White House statement called for stronger sanctions against the North, but did not directly threaten U.S. military action.
It also seemed to suggest that Russia should be concerned enough to do more to rein in North Korea.
"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 statement said.
North Korea is widely believed to be developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that is capable of reaching the United States. President Donald Trump has vowed not to let that happen.
The U.S. military said the type of missile fired on May 14 was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile."
North Korea's missile program has been banned by United Nations resolutions, but it has continued to test ballistic missiles and to develop its nuclear program.
The launch is the first since South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, took office this week. He has said he favors engagement with Pyongyang to bring it to the negotiating table, in contrast to a tougher stand by his predecessor.
Nevertheless, Moon on May 14 condemned the missile launch as a "reckless provocation."
The UN Security Council is scheduled to meet on May 16 to discuss the missile launch at the request of the United States, South Korea, and Japan, diplomats said.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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