UPDATE ON LATEST NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TEST: South Korea suspects North Korea’s latest missile launch tested “new technology.”
The South Korean military said the missile was fired from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew about 60 kilometers (40 miles). The earlier one in February flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles). Analysts were trying to determine if the shorter distance meant Wednesday’s launch was a failure.
One expert said it could have been a test of a new missile intended as a stepping stone toward developing a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland. Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, questioned why North Korea would do a shorter launch of the KN-15.
Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit, perhaps conduct a nuclear test. The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts Thursday, he said.
“I’ve joked before that they don’t mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored,” Cossa said.
Recent satellite imagery shows possible preparations for a test at North Korea’s main nuclear test site, including the laying of communication cables used to initiate a test and collect data.
Diplomatic dealings, U.S.-China:
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the launch in a brief statement but said the U.S. had spoken enough about North Korea and would not comment further.
Trump has said China must do more to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear program. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that all sides needed to be involved.
“If we are serious about solving this issue, we need to tackle the root of it,” she said at a regular news briefing. “We need to balance the interest of each side. China wants to make efforts with all sides involved, to make denuclearization a reality, and ensure peace in the region.”
SecState Tillerson said a lot in March when he said strategic patience with North Korea is over. This essay has a long section discussing the Trump Administration’s policy change vis a vis North Korea. I’ve linked to it several times but it’s history-rich and does help readers understand current events on the Korean peninsula.