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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, May 28, 2018

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Another missile, another provocation: North Korea goes ballistic

Friday night appeared to have fired another ballistic missile

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SEOUL, South Korea - In a fresh provocation, North Korea on Friday night appeared to have fired another ballistic missile and while officials from U.S. and South Korea confirmed the launch, they said it was not immediately clear whether the missile was an ICBM.

North Korea’s missile on Friday further led to fears that the country is ramping up efforts to develop a nuclear weapon that would be capable of reaching the United States mainland, a mission that the reclusive nation has obsessively worked towards achieving in the last couple of years.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said that North Korea appeared to launch the missile just after 11 p.m. local time. 

Following reports of the launch, South Korean President Moon Jae-in convened an emergency national security meeting.

Meanwhile, Japanese authorities too reported detecting the launch, and the country’s public broadcaster NHK said that the missile appeared to land within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said on Friday, “I can confirm that we detected a launch of a ballistic missile from North Korea. We are assessing and will have more information soon.”

Authorities were further concerned on Friday because the late-night launch is unusual for North Korea, that has almost always launched missiles soon after dawn.

However, the launch had been anticipated as authorities both in the U.S. and South Korea had recorded increased movement near North Korea’s nuclear sites over the last week. 

The launch on Friday came a day after North Korea marked the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War,” which is the anniversary of the conclusion of the Korean War, which ended in an armistice but which Pyongyang claims it won. 

The provocation by North Korea came as another hurdle that the Trump administration faces in reigning in the trigger friendly nation that is pursuing its agenda of ridding the Korean peninsula of U.S. forces.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, the day before the anniversary of the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, North Korea threatened to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted Pak Yong Sik, North Korea’s defense minister, as saying at a ceremony on Wednesday, “If enemies misunderstand our strategic status and stick to options of staging a preemptive nuclear attack against us, we will launch a nuclear attack on America’s heart as the most relentless punishment without warning or prior notice.”

The test on Friday also came barely three weeks after North Korea, on July 4, fired its first missile technically capable of reaching the United States, which the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said represented "a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region and the world."

That ICBM flew at a trajectory of 1,730 miles above Earth for 37 minutes before crashing into the Sea of Japan.

 

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