North Korea missile test is huge step forward

The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) is launched during a test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. The test gives a boost to leader Kim Jong Un as he seeks to show his people that he's standing up to America and South Korea.

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 USA mainland.

Trump also has sought to enlist Chinese President Xi Jinping's help in preventing North Korea from escalating development of its weapons program.

The latest missile launch suggested the North had taken a step in that direction, analysts said.

The missile, which was launched at a high angle, reached the maximum altitude of more than 2,111.5 kilometers before landing in the East Sea 787 km away.

Experts said the altitude reached by the missile tested on Sunday meant it was launched at a high trajectory, which would limit the lateral distance it traveled.

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

Moon, a strong apologist for former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun's Sunshine Policy, which highlighted engagement with the North, took a more critical tone Sunday, calling the missile test a "blatant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions" and a "grave threat" to the Korean Peninsula and the worldwide security. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the missile test was "dangerous" but added that Pyongyang was being intimidated.

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

North Korea fired a missile into the sea Sunday, slapping South Korea's new president with a major security challenge four days after he took office with a call for dialogue in dealing with the communist state.

South Korea's President Moon has said that, for the sake of peace, he is willing to visit Washington, Beijing, Tokyo and even North Korea if conditions allow. Spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said it is still unlikely that North Korea has re-entry technology, which would return a warhead safely back into the atmosphere.

"If the U.S. awkwardly attempts to provoke the DPRK, it will not escape from the biggest disaster in the history, Kim said, strongly warning the United States should not to disregard or misjudge the reality that its mainland and Pacific operation region are in the DPRK's sighting range for strike and that it has all powerful means for retaliatory strike", KCNA said.

U.S. Pacific Command said "the flight is not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile".

Rep. Park Byeong-seug of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party said he had a short conversation with Kim Yong-jae, Pyongyang's minister of external economic relations. He also warned North Korea not to test his resolve.

The United States called for tougher sanctions against the North, with the White House saying it "has been a flagrant menace for far too long".

Six-party talks involving the North, the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Japan broke down in 2009. In a show of force, the United States sent an aircraft carrier strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson, to waters off the Korean peninsula to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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