North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile towards Japans in 10th Test since Trump Became US President

A pedestrian looks at a TV screen on a street broadcasting news of North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan, 29 May 2017. Photo: Frank Robichon/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

  • North Korea has carried out another ballistic missile test-firing.
  • It fired a Scud-type missile towards Japan which fell in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.
  • North Korea already has seven successful and three failed missile firings since Trump came to power in the US.
  • Japan has lodged a formal protest against North Korea’s missile test.
  • In spite of North Korea’s provocations, South Korea continues to try to resume its humanitarian relations with it.

The regime of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has test-fired another ballistic missile towards Japan in its 10th missile test since Donald Trump became President of the United States.

For the past three weeks, North Korea has been firing a ballistic missile each week, with the previous missile test having been performed on Sunday, May 21, 2017.

It also said that Kim Jong-un had approved the Pukguksong-2 missile, an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM), for mass production.

Its tally since Trump became US President is seven successful and three failed missile firings.

The latest North Korean provocations have led South Korea to admit that the missile program of Kim Jong-un’s regime is advancing faster than thought, and that a war might be in the making.

North Korea’s regime has claimed that its new rocket could deliver a “large heavy nuclear warhead” all the way to the US mainland.

The THAAD advanced US missile defense system is already operational in South Korea, and can intercept ballistic missiles launched by the regime of Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

Ongoing activity and a large number of people have been spotted at North Korea’s nuclear test site, the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility, amid lingering concerns that the regime of leader Kim Jong-un could carry out its sixth nuclear test.

The two latest missile firing by Kim Jong-un’s regime come shortly after the election of South Korea’s new President, liberal Moon Jae-in, who favors engagement with North Korea rather than a harsher stance.

There have been reports that North Korea has been bracing for a preemptive US missile strike similar to the missile strike on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the April 4 attack with chemical weapons.

Tenth Missile Firing

North Korea fired a ballistic missile from its eastern coast on early Monday morning, South Korean news agency Younhap reported, adding that the firing dealt a new blow to efforts by South Korea’s new government to improve inter-Korean ties.

The missile, presumed to be a Scud type, was launched eastward from the vicinity of Wonsan, Gangwon Province, at around 5:39 a.m., according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea.

“The flight distance was around 450 kilometers,” it announced, adding that South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who summoned a National Security Council meeting.

The US Pacific Command also confirmed North Korea’s missile launch occurred near Wonsan Airfield, saying the missile was tracked for six minutes until it landed in the Sea of Japan.

“The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) assessed that the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” the Hawaii-based command said in an emailed statement.

“US Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan,” it added.

US President Donald Trump was also briefed on North Korea’s latest provocation, a White House official said.

North Korea’s Scud missiles using liquid fuel are known to have a range of 300-500 km, and are deemed to be meant to be used mainly against South Korea.

The Kim Jong-un regime recently developed a Scud variant called Scud-ER (extended range), capable of traveling as far as 1,000 km, which would mean that Japan is also within its range.

There have been speculations that North Korea may be trying to develop anti-ship ballistic missiles to be used US aircraft carriers.

Japan’s Protest

Japan’s government strongly denounced North Korea’s test-firing as the missile landed in waters in exclusive economic zone, and lodged a protest.

“This ballistic missile launch by North Korea is highly problematic from the perspective of the safety of shipping and air traffic, and is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed action along with other nations to deter Pyongyang’s repeated provocations.

“As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community,” Abe told reporters in brief televised remarks, as cited by Reuters.

“Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea,” he added.

Over the weekened the leaders of the Group of Seven (G-7) member countries, including Japanes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, agreed that North Korea “increasingly poses new levels of threat of a grave nature to international peace and stability.”

They urged the North to “immediately and fully comply with all relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and abandon all nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.”

Under the resolutions in question, North Korea is banned from conducting ballistic missile launches.

In a meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Italy, US President Donald Trump told Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the problem with North Korea and its nuclear and missile programs “will be resolved at some point”.

China and Russia also made clear they disapproved of the latest North Korean missile launched.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive, and we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia condemned the launched and also called for restraint, “including towards military activity”, from the partners it was working with, the RIA news agency quoted a deputy Russian Foreign Minister as saying.

Pressing for Humanitarian Contacts

In spite of North Korea’s continuing provocations in the form of frequent ballistic missile firings, South Korea’s government is pressing ahead with its plans to resume humanitarian cooperation with its neighbor.

Last week, South Korea’s Unification Ministry approved an application by a local civic group to contact the North for the delivery of mosquito nets and insect repellents.

The decision was viewed as reflecting the liberal Moon administration’s desire to reopen dialogue with Pyongyang.

“The government will respond strongly to any North Korean provocations, but at the same time, we are flexibly reviewing ways to allow humanitarian and civilian exchanges without compromising international sanctions,” a South Korean Unification Ministry official said.

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