North Korea

North Korea’s latest ICBM possibly the longest-range test yet

Donald Trump says the launch will not change his approach to North Korea and that the US will ‘take care of it’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 2:57am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 11:19am

US Defence Secretary James Mattis said North Korea fired a missile that flew higher than those in previous launches, a move that ended a 10-week cessation of military provocations by Pyongyang.

Responding to North Korea’s most recent missile launch during a meeting with Republican Senators in Washington, President Donald Trump said “we will take care of it” and referred to the move as “a situation we will handle”. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed a maritime blockade to isolate Pyongyang.

“North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, at dawn” on Wednesday, Yonhap News Agency quoted the Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying. Japan’s government estimated that the missile flew for about 50 minutes and landed in the sea in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Japanese broadcaster NHK said.

Referring to the projectile as an intercontinental ballistic missile, Mattis said the launch was ”higher, frankly, than any previous shots” North Korea has taken.

Washington’s Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to be convened on Wednesday afternoon.

Why Trump versus Kim is too complex a contest to predict

The launch of the missile came after the United States placed North Korea back on Washington’s list of state sponsors of terrorism last week as part of efforts to increase pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons

This is the first time that North Korea has fired a ballistic missile since September 15 when one flew over northern Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. The distance covered in that launch was sufficient to reach Guam, home to key US military bases.

North Korea’s “relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them must be reversed. Together the international community must continue to send a unified message to North Korea that the DPRK must abandon its WMD programmes”, Tillerson said in a release from the State Department. DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the country’s official name.

“All nations must continue strong economic and diplomatic measures. In addition to implementing all existing UN sanctions, the international community must take additional measures to enhance maritime security, including the right to interdict maritime traffic transporting goods to and from” North Korea, Tillerson said.

Speculation was rife that North Korea could conduct more provocative acts after it had exchanged personal insults and threats of war with US President Donald Trump.

One day after the previous missile test, North Korea’s official media quoted current leader Kim Jong-un as saying that “our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the United States and make the US rulers dare not talk about military options” to deal with his country.

The cold, calculated logic behind North Korea’s missile tests

North Korea is rapidly advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland, despite multiple international sanctions and condemnations.

In early September, North Korea also carried out its sixth and by far largest nuclear test.

Amid growing worries over North Korea’s fast-paced arms development programme, Trump’s remarks have inflamed tensions further between Pyongyang and Washington.

Trump takes wrong approach with Pyongyang

In his speech to the United Nations on September 19, Trump said he would be prepared to “totally destroy” North Korea if the US were forced to defend itself or its allies. He also mocked the current North Korean leader as “Rocket Man.”

Kim responded by issuing a statement saying: “Now that Trump has … insulted me and my country in front of the eyes of the world … we will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

Kim warned that “whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation” and called him a “mentally deranged US dotard.”

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North Korean officials subsequently have upped the ante in a war of words with the United States by suggesting the possibility of a powerful hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.