Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s latest missile test Monday may have less to do with perfecting its weapons technology than with showing U.S. and South Korean forces in the region that it can strike them at will.
South Korean and Japanese officials said the suspected Scud-type short-range missile flew about 450 kilometers on Monday morning before landing in Japan’s maritime economic zone, setting off the usual round of condemnation from Washington and the DPRK’s neighbors.
Upon his return from his first foreign trip as U.S. president, Donald Trump tweeted about the test, calling it a sign of “disrespect” to their neighbor, China.
North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile…but China is trying hard!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2017
There was no immediate response from China on the latest missile test.
It’s the latest in a string of test launches by the DPRK as it seeks to build nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland.
The DPRK already has an arsenal of reliable short-range missiles. While DPRK scientists could be tweaking them — for instance, developing a new solid-fuel short-range missile — they test these shorter-range missiles much less than its less dependable, longer-range missiles.
The missile was launched from the coastal town of Wonsan, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It landed in Japan’s exclusive maritime economic zone, which is set about 200 nautical miles off the Japanese coast, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. He said there was no report of damage to planes or vessels in the area.
The DPRK is still thought to be several years from its goal of being able to target U.S. mainland cities with nuclear ICBMs.
South Korea says the DPRK has conducted nine ballistic missile tests this year, including one in which four missiles were launched on the same day.
The DPRK’s state-controlled media had no immediate comment on Monday’s test, but released a statement, without mentioning the launch, that accused Seoul and Washington of “aggravating the situation” on the Korean Peninsula by conducting joint military drills and other “reckless acts.”
Story by The Associated Press