North Korea launches ‘more advanced’ missile less than a week after hypersonic test

  • Launch detected by South Korea and Japan
  • Repeated North Korean tests “extremely regrettable”: Japanese PM
  • North Korea last week claimed “hypersonic missile” testing
  • US and partners condemn testing as significant threat

SEOUL, Jan.11 (Reuters) – North Korea appeared to test a ballistic missile on Tuesday that could outperform the “hypersonic missile” it launched less than a week earlier, the South Army said. Korean, while Pyongyang pursues increasingly advanced weapons.

The launches underscored Leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s wish to bolster the military with cutting-edge technology at a time when talks with South Korea and the United States have stalled.

Early estimates revealed Tuesday’s missile had traveled more than 700 km (435 miles) at a maximum altitude of 60 km (37 miles) at a maximum speed of up to 10 times the speed of sound (12,348 km / 7 673 mph), the Chiefs of Staff of South Korea. The staff (JCS) said in a statement.

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“We believe this is more advanced than the missile fired by North Korea on Jan. 5, although South Korean and US intelligence authorities are carrying out a detailed analysis,” JCS said.

The suspected ballistic missile launch was detected around 7.27 a.m. (22.27 GMT Monday) from North Korea’s Jagang province to the ocean off its east coast, in the same location as last week’s test.

North Korea has joined a global race in the development of hypersonic missiles, which are generally defined as weapons that reach speeds of at least five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour (3 850 mph) – and can maneuver on relatively low trajectories, making them much more difficult to detect and intercept.

Last week, South Korean military officials questioned the capabilities of the hypersonic missile that North Korea claimed to have tested on Wednesday, saying it appeared to represent limited progress over existing ballistic missiles from Pyongyang.

“Today’s test could be intended to send a message to the South after authorities here said the previous test was unsuccessful and did not involve a hypersonic missile,” Kim Dong-yup, a former military officer. the South Korean Navy which now teaches at Kyungnam University in Seoul. .

‘DESTABILIZE’

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting and President Moon Jae-in subsequently expressed concern about the series of launches coming ahead of the March 9 presidential election in South Korea, indicated his office.

The nuclear envoys from South Korea and the United States held a phone call to share their assessment of the missile test and coordinate responses, and agreed to continue efforts to revive the peace process with the North, said the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

A North Korean flag flies next to an accordion wire at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March 9, 2017. REUTERS / Edgar Su / File Photo

The United States Army Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said that although it assessed the launch as not an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, it “underlines the destabilizing impact of the weapons program illegal acts of North Korea “.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida noted that the United Nations had just completed discussions on how to respond to last week’s launch.

“That North Korea continues to launch missiles is extremely regrettable,” he told reporters.

UN Security Council resolutions ban all ballistic and nuclear missile testing by North Korea, and have imposed sanctions on the programs.

Tuesday’s apparent launch came a day after the United States mission to the United Nations, joined by France, Ireland, Japan, the United Kingdom and Albania, issued a joint statement condemning the last week’s test.

“These actions increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation and pose a significant threat to regional stability,” US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement on Monday. Such tests not only improve the capabilities of the North, but expand what it can offer customers and illicit arms traffickers around the world, she added.

However, China and Russia are pushing the UN Security Council to ease sanctions on North Korea by removing the ban on exports of statues, seafood and textiles from Pyongyang and raising the cap. imports of refined petroleum.

Thomas-Greenfield reiterated his calls for countries around the world to apply sanctions and for North Korea to resume talks and abandon its missiles and nuclear weapons.

North Korea has said it is open to discussion, but only if the United States and others abandon “hostile policies” such as sanctions and military exercises.

Few observers expect Kim to ever give up her nuclear arsenal altogether, and North Korea maintains that its missile testing and other military activities are similar to measures taken by other countries.

Leif-Eric Easley, professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, said North Korea was trying to use repeated tests to standardize its missile capabilities and military programs, describing it as engaged in improvements. progressive for self-defense like many other countries.

“At the same time, Pyongyang challenges international sanctions, testing what it can do as the United Nations Security Council remains divided, he said.

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith in Seoul and the Tokyo office; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington. Written by Josh Smith. Editing by Lincoln Feast

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