In defiance of the United States and its main ally, China, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday, April 29th, 2017. The missile did not leave the North Korean territory. According to the United States’ and South Korean military, this test appears to have been a failure, the fourth of such since March this year.
Fired from Pyongyang inland and over populated areas, the missile was most likely a medium range missile that North Korea believed confidently would not fail, and could have resulted in civilian deaths if it had fallen short. Instead, it burned up in the atmosphere minutes after launch. According to Al Jazeera, this means that it was “not necessarily new technology and not necessarily a new type of missile they were testing.”
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, has called this missile testing a grave threat to his country. He calls upon the United States and China to continue to pressure North Korea to cease such test firing of missiles. He called this test “absolutely not acceptable,” and has said that his country “strongly condemns such acts.”
United States President Donald Trump tweeted, “North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!” The United States has warned that military options will remain on the table if North Korea’s ballistics testing continues.
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has stated that it is not China’s responsibility to solve the problem of North Korea.
Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, warned the United Nations Security Council that a failure to stop North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile program will lead to “catastrophic consequences.” According to Al Jazeera, North Korea “has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons-related activities at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of the year and is believed to have made some progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.” The international community fears that North Korea will attempt what would be its fifth nuclear missile test. According to the New York Times, “satellite imagery of the nuclear test site in the country’s northeast showed that the North was ready for a test.”