North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile from a site in the country’s northwest, foreign officials say, just weeks after the country’s most recent attempt to launch a missile. The latest test appears to have been successful.
The missile was launched at 4:57 a.m. local time on Sunday near the city of Kusŏng in North Pyongan Province, according to Japan’s military. It reached an altitude of 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) and flew up to 700 kilometers (435 miles) before falling into waters off its eastern coast.
The type of missile was not immediately known, but Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said it may have been a new type of missile. U.S. Pacific Command, which tracked the missile, said the flight was not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said Sunday’s missile had a considerably longer range than North Korea’s previous missiles, noting that it flew for about 30 minutes.
“A 30-minute flight time [requires] a missile that was highly lofted, reaching an apogee of about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) while splashing down at a range of 700 km,” he said. “If that same missile was flown on a standard trajectory, it would have a maximum range of about 4,500 km (2,800 miles).”
A range of approximately 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) would put the U.S. territory of Guam within the missile’s reach. Other parts of the United States, such as Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, are still well beyond North Korea’s reach.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who took office just days ago, convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and strongly condemned the launch. “Even if dialogue is possible, [we] should show that it’s possible only in case of North Korea changing its attitude,” he said, as quoted by Yonhap.
In the United States, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the missile test.
“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,” Spicer said in a written statement. “North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long.”
Spicer added: “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.”
The Japanese government also condemned the missile test, calling it a grave threat to the region’s security. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe ordered the government to “prepare for all possible contingencies” and collect as much information as possible.
Sunday’s test comes after weeks of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea’s missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump.
North Korea has carried out a series of missile tests over the past few months. Its most recent one on April 29 is believed to have ended in failure, but experts say a failure still provides valuable information as the country works towards an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
On Saturday, a North Korean diplomat told reporters that her country would be willing to hold talks with the United States under the “right conditions.” Trump himself has also indicated a willingness to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, though he too said the conditions would have to be right.
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