North Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

2017-04-05 05:43
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, US and South Korean officials said, amid worries the North might conduct nuclear or long-range rocket tests ahead of the first summit between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week.

The US Pacific Command said it detected and tracked what it assessed as North Korean missile launched from land near the eastern coastal city of Sinpo. A US statement said initial assessments indicate the type of missile was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile flew about 60km.

The KN-15 missile reportedly refers to what North Korea calls the solid-fuel "Pukguksong-2". The use of solid-fuel missiles is a worrying development because the fuel already being inside the rocket shortens launch preparation times and makes it harder for outsiders to detect what's happening before liftoff.

When North Korea test-fired this missile in February, South Korean officials said it flew about 500km before landing in international waters. It wasn't immediately known if the much shorter distance of Wednesday's flight meant a failed launch.

Trump-Xi summit

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit, perhaps conduct a nuclear test. The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts later this week, Cossa said.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored," Cossa said.

Recent outside satellite imagery shows possible preparations for a new nuclear test at the North's main nuclear test site, such as the laying of communication cables used to initiate a test and collect data. North Korea's state media has also said the world will soon witness what it calls "eventful successes" the country achieves in space development. Washington, Seoul and others call the North's space programme a cover for its long-range missile development programme.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry called the North's latest missile launch a "reckless provocation" that posed a threat to international peace, while Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the country lodged a strong protest over the launch.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the launch in a statement, but said the US had spoken enough about North Korea and would not comment further.

Birthday

Analysts say North Korea might time nuclear and long-range rocket tests for the April 15 birthday of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong Un.

North Korea is pushing hard to upgrade its weapons systems to cope with what it calls US hostility. Many weapons experts say the North could have a functioning nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the continental US within a few years. North Korea carried out two nuclear tests last year.

The North's latest missile launch also came as it is responding to annual military drills between the United States and South Korea with weapons tests and harsh rhetoric. North Korea sees the drills as an invasion rehearsal.

Two weeks ago, the South Korean and US militaries said they had detected a failed North Korean ballistic missile launch. Earlier in March, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles that flew about 1 000km, with three of them landing in waters that Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  kim jong un  |  xi jinping  |  us  |  south korea  |  north korea  |  china  |  north korea nuclear programme

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.

 
 

Paws

Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.