North Korea, defying calls to curb its weapons program, fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday in a launch the United States called a message to South Korea days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile could be a new type. It flew for 30 minutes before dropping into the sea between North Korea’s east coast and Japan. North Korea has consistently test-fired missiles in that direction.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said initial assessments showed the missile landed 97 km (60 miles) south of Russia’s Vladivostok region.
The missile flew 700 km (430 miles) and reached an altitude of more than 2,000 km (1,245 miles), according to officials in South Korea and Japan, further and higher than an intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February from the same region of Kusong, northwest of its capital Pyongyang.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called the launch a message by Pyongyang to South Korea after the election of President Moon Jae-in, who took office on Wednesday.
“You first have to get into Kim Jong Un’s head – which is, he’s in a state of paranoia, he’s incredibly concerned about anything and everything around him,” Haley told ABC’s “This Week” program, referring to North Korea’s leader.
Haley added that the United States will “continue to tighten the screws” on North Korea, mentioning sanctions and working with the international community to put pressure on Pyongyang.
Moon held his first National Security Council in response to the launch, which he called a “clear violation” of U.N. Security Council resolutions, his office said.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the launch, diplomats said on Sunday.
The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said it was assessing the type of missile that was fired but it was “not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile”. The U.S. threat assessment has not changed from a national security standpoint, a U.S. official said.
An intercontinental ballistic missile is considered to have a range of more than 6,000 km (3,700 miles)
The White House mentioned Russia in its earlier statement about the launch. “With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil – in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan – the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased,” the White House said, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The launch served as a call for all nations to implement stronger sanctions against North Korea, it added. [/restrict]