North Korea Defies Trump With Missile Test
EghtesadOnline: North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile on Sunday morning that exploded almost immediately after launch, defying warnings from the Trump administration to avoid any further provocations.
U.S. and South Korean military officials are conducting further analysis of the launch at Sinpo on North Korea’s eastern coastline. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who is set to arrive in Seoul on Sunday afternoon for a previously planned trip to Asia, was briefed on the incident shortly after leaving Alaska, Bloomberg reported.
“The president and his military team are aware of North Korea’s most recent unsuccessful missile launch,” U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement. “The president has no further comment.”
The incident occurred a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw an elaborate military parade in the center of Pyongyang as the world watched for any provocations that risk sparking a conflict with the Trump administration. Kim’s regime has test-fired ballistic missiles five times this year in his quest to develop a device that can carry a nuclear warhead to North America.
North Korea’s activities “are a threatening demonstration against the entire world,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “We have to warn again that if this leads to a strategic provocation of a nuclear or ICBM test, the North will face strong punitive measures that it will find hard to endure.”
President Donald Trump this month dispatched a warship fleet toward the Korean Peninsula as the U.S. weighed retaliation for any missile or nuclear test. Trump has threatened to act unilaterally if China -- North Korea’s main ally and benefactor -- fails to do more to curb its neighbor’s activities.
Kim showed off a range of long-range missiles at the parade on Saturday, including submarine-launched ballistic missiles for the first time and what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea’s Yonhap News reported. In 2012, North Korea unveiled long-range missiles that some arms analysts dismissed as fake.
“If the U.S. provokes recklessly, the revolutionary forces will take an annihilating strike,” Choe Ryong Hae, a senior regime official, said in a speech at the parade. North Korea is ready for a nuclear or full-scale war if the U.S. wants it, he added.
Kim, wearing a Western-style black suit and white collared shirt, was pictured on state-run television laughing heartily and clapping while watching the parade. He has launched dozens of projectiles and conducted three nuclear tests since he came to power after his father’s death in 2011, and claimed in January to be in the final stages of preparations to test-fire an ICBM.
Two new ICBM launchers were the most striking weapons on display at the military parade, according to Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. It also suggested that North Korea has two different ICBMs under development in addition to the KN-08, a liquid-fueled road-mobile missile capable of reaching the U.S.
“We saw more new systems for the first time in this parade than ever before,” Lewis said. “The North Koreans are committed to deploying a credible nuclear deterrent that is capable of deterring an attack and ‘repelling’ an invasion.”
While the White House said Pence will mostly be dealing with business issues on a 10-day swing through Asia, administration officials said Thursday that he will also discuss economic sanctions and military options for North Korea if a provocation occurs.
While not publicly defining its plans, the White House has said that all options are on the table to prevent North Korea from acquiring the ability to strike the U.S. with a nuclear weapon. Despite the saber rattling, Trump has found little support -- publicly or behind the scenes -- from friends in the region.
Any U.S. military strike risks leading to a war between the world’s biggest economies -- one that may devastate South Korea and Japan, two American allies in striking range of retaliatory attacks. China has backed North Korea since the peninsula was last at war in the 1950s, in part to prevent having an American ally on its border.