On May 21, North Korea fired a medium-range missile off the country’s coast in its latest installment of missile tests, according to South Korean officials. The South Korean military identified this missile as a Pukguksong-2, which was last tested on February 12 after President Trump took office.
During the previous week, North Korea’s intermediate-range missile, Hawasong-12, was launched successfully. According to North Korea, it reached a height of more than 1,300 miles and has possibly the longest range of any missile tested.
This latest launch continues to draw worldwide attention to the nation’s rapid nuclear weapon development. While the missile was launched off the western coast of the nation and into Japan’s waters, it did not reach any Japanese economic spheres or the U.S. Territory Guam as analysts feared. A White House official said, “This system, last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea’s three most recent tests.” Medium-range missiles typically have a maximum range of 1,900 miles and Guam lies 2,000 miles away from North Korea. However, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that North Korea’s leader Kim Jun Un, who supervised the testing, was very satisfied and ordered a mass production of the missile system.
This launch also provides North Korea with meaningful data in regards to nuclear weapons advancement and fuels the possibility of a war. The medium-range Pukguksong-2 missile and the one launched in February both use solid fuel rather than liquid. The use of solid fuel allows the missiles to be fired more quickly and without fuel trucks. Fuel trucks, which can be spotted via satellite, will no longer give away launch plans.
This improvement alarmed North Korea’s neighbours because these tests have become a stepping stone toward an intercontinental missile that could one day reach Hawaii or Alaska. North Korea is continuing to test its missiles’ range and “re-entry” technology. This technology is necessary to protect the missile as it reenters the atmosphere to reach far distances.
The KCNA said on Monday that the medium-range missile was to “finally verify all the technical indexes of the weapon system and thoroughly examine its adaptability under various battle conditions, before its deployment at military units for action.” Currently, North Korea will not end its missile testing even at the hands of Washington and has stated that the testing is a reaction to Japan, the U.S., and South Korea.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has expressed a desire to talk about North Korea’s missile launches at the 43rd G7 summit in Italy on May 26 and 27. While the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said Washington will continue to apply “both economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea, the Trump administration has yet to enact a foreign policy regarding North Korea.
South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in has wanted to reach out to North Korea and talk rather than respond with immediate violence. “I will never overlook such provocations and nuclear threats of North Korea,” Mr. Moon said. “I will strongly respond to this along with the international community. The reality of today’s national security is that there are military tensions and highly possible confrontations in the areas of the western Northern Limit Line and the military demarcation line.”
North Korea’s lone ally, China, remained the middle man urging both Pyongyang and Washington to concede on the matters of nuclear warfare. On Tuesday, May 23, a closed-door U.N. Security meeting about North Korea was held between the U.S., Japan, and South Korea.
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