The Associated PressPYONGYANG (AP) — In an implicit challenge to U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea fired a ballistic missile early Sunday in its first such test of the year.
North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un was at the site to observe the launch and expressed pleasure at North Korea’s expansion of its strategic strike capabilities.
A report on the launch carried early Monday by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said Kim watched from an observation post and gave the order to fire the “Pukguksong-2,” which it said was a “Korean style new type strategic weapon system.”
It is believed to have flown about 500 kilometers before splashing down into the ocean in international waters.
The report said the test proved “the reliability and security” of a new mobile launching system, the solid fuel that was used and the guidance and control features of the ballistic missile. Solid fuel can give missiles longer range and make detecting them before launch more difficult because they can be readied faster than liquid fuel missiles.
The report also said the test verified control and guidance capabilities and said the missile can be “tipped with a nuclear warhead.”
It suggested the launch conducted in a “lofted” style, which puts the missile into a high trajectory rather than a lower one that gives it more range, in order take “the security of the neighboring countries into consideration.”
It added Kim “expressed great satisfaction over the possession of another powerful nuclear attack means.”
“Now our rocket industry has radically turned into high thrust solid fuel-powered engine from liquid fuel rocket engine and rapidly developed into a development- and creation-oriented industry, not just copying samples,” he said. “Thanks to the development of the new strategic weapon system, our People’s Army is capable of performing its strategic duties most accurately and rapidly in any space: under waters or on the land.”
North Korea had warned it was ready to test its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The U.S. Strategic Command, however, said it detected and tracked what it assessed to be a medium- or intermediate-range missile. The reports of the launch came as Trump was hosting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and just days before North Korea is to mark the birthday of leader Kim Jong Un’s late father, Kim Jong Il
Stephen Miller, Trump’s chief policy adviser, said Trump and Abe had displayed “an important show of solidarity” between their nations.
“The message we’re sending to the world right now is a message of strength and solidarity; we stand with Japan and we stand with our allies in the region to address the North Korean menace,” Miller said during an interview Sunday with ABC’s “This Week.”
The firing of the missile is a major challenge for the Trump administration, said George Lopez, an expert in economic sanctions and nuclear disarmament and a professor emeritus of peace studies at the University of Notre Dame.
“The Sunday test of an intermediate-range ballistic missile by the North Korean regime is in clear violation of past United Nations Security Council resolutions and recent warning from the U.S.,” Lopez said. Speech