North Korea missile test is huge step forward

Posted May 16, 2017

On Monday, Pyongyang made the extraordinary claim that its latest test proved the country had a rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead and that the USA mainland and its military base on the Pacific island of Guam were now within its "sighting range for strike".

Amid condemnation in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington, a jubilant North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised more nuclear and missile tests and warned his country's weapons could strike the US mainland and Pacific holdings.

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness - Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a "sea of fire", for instance - but Monday's claim, if confirmed, would mark another big advance toward the North's goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned North Korea's latest test-firing of a ballistic missile.

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 range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test previous year.

Kim said North Korea would stage more nuclear and missile tests in order to ideal nuclear bombs needed to deal with U.S.

"I want to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear powers, including with the Korean peninsula and North Korea", said Putin, who said any such move would be "harmful and dangerous".

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday the North's latest missile test was unsafe, but warned against attempts to "intimidate" Pyongyang.

What's worrying to the United States, among other countries, is that if this missile were fired at a different trajectory, it could have reached the US Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, according to aerospace engineer John Schilling's 38 North blog, which is published by the US Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The UN Security Council has condemned a yet another missile test held by North Korea and has again threatened with new sanctions against Pyongyang if it continues its provocative actions.

"The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea", the statement said.

North Korea has accused the United States of a hostile policy to remove its regime and says its nuclear weapons and missiles are a "sacred sword" to protect itself.

U.S. Pacific Command said "the flight is not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile". It said that with this missile, "the US mainland and Pacific operation region are in the [Democratic People's Republic of Korea's] sighting range for strike". "This could also be an opportunity for China to show that it can initiate some plausible plans to handle the North Korea issue within the framework of the worldwide community", Su said. He said Sunday's launch - the seventh such firing by North Korea this year - may have been of a new mobile, two-stage liquid-fueled missile North Korea displayed in a huge April 15 military parade.

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.

Trump also said earlier this month he would be "honored" to meet with Kim under appropriate circumstances, although the White House quickly walked that back to stress the current conditions were not right.

The South Korean military is gathering and analyzing information.