North Korea's latest missile test may be a 'substantial advance'

Posted May 16, 2017

If North Korea's state-run media agency's claim that the missile reached an altitude of 1,312 miles is true, that's a higher altitude and longer flight time than any other missiles tested to date, according to several South Korean analysts.

Pyongyang's propaganda must be considered with caution, but if confirmed, the claim marks another big step forward in the country's escalating efforts to field a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediate-range ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the USA base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

The council has condemned all five of North Korea's launches this year. North Korea's push to boost its weapons programme also makes it one of the Trump administration's most urgent foreign policy worries.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the missile test, according to a statement the White House released late Saturday. Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new measures before involving remaining council members.

Council diplomats said the language was significant because China, North Korea's strongest ally, signed on.

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France's United Nations ambassador says Security Council members are working on a resolution that would impose new sanctions against North Korea and strengthen enforcement of existing sanctions.

"They have the overwhelming dominant economic relationship with North Korea and because they have the greatest leverage, they have the greatest responsibility", he added.

North Korea's state news agency identified the weapon as a Hwasong-12 "medium long-range" ground-to-ground ballistic missile.

Under UN resolutions, North Korea is barred from developing nuclear and missile technology, with six sets of sanctions imposed on the isolated regime since it first tested an atomic device in 2006. Moon has advocated dialogue with North Korea to denuclearize.

Japanese officials said Sunday that the missile flew for a half hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan.

"With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil. the president can not imagine that Russia is pleased", the statement said.

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North Korea has never launched a missile that can fly across the Pacific.

It was the North's second missile firing in two weeks, and came amid mounting global concern over Pyongyang's progress in developing nuclear weapons that could be carried by long-range missiles.

"This is the longest-range missile North Korea has ever tested", Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies told AFP.

However, the U.S. military's Pacific Command said on Sunday the type of missile that was sacked was "not consistent" with an ICBM and South Korea's military played down the North's claim of technical progress on atmospheric re-entry.

"If the United States awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in [.] history", KCNA quoted Kim as saying, referring to the North's formal name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The test is also an immediate challenge to South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, who expressed a desire to reach out to the North.

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Last week, it demanded that the South hand over its spy chief.