Latest North Korean Launch Involves Liquid Fuel Single-Stage Missile

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16 May, 2017

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said the country tested a new type of long-range missile "capable of carrying a large-size heavy nuclear warhead". The U.S. mainland and American military bases in the Pacific are within North Korea's "sighting range for strike", Kim continued.

South Korea's military said it could not yet verify the North's claims, but Pyongyang seems to have yet to master missile technology for "atmospheric reentry", a key element in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Schilling also predicts the missile could have flown almost 2,800 miles (or about 4,500 kilometers) if launched on a maximum trajectory - which would put Guam within striking distance of North Korean missles but "won't greatly change the strategic balance" because "aside from Guam, there aren't really any interesting targets in that range".

Although outside experts see several places where North Korea is likely stretching the truth, the missile launched Sunday appears to be the most powerful the country has ever tested. The missile fell in the Sea of Japan after flying some 500 miles.

This range is considerably longer than the estimated range of the Musudan missile, which showed a range of about 3,000 km in a test previous year.

Council diplomats say the USA and China, the North's closest ally, have been working on a new sanctions resolution. Hawaii is roughly 7,000 km from North Korea.

"It appears to have not only demonstrated an intermediaterange ballistic missile that might enable them to reliably strike the U.S. base at Guam, but more importantly, may represent a substantial advance to developing an intercontinental ballistic missile".

China might support a new round of United Nations sanctions against North Korea after Pyongyang launched another missile test just hours before Beijing held its biggest diplomatic event of the year, the belt and road forum, observers said.

North Korea says Sunday's launch was of a new type of "medium long-range" ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

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Kim was quoted as warning the USA that if it ever "awkwardly attempts to provoke" his country, it will face the "biggest disaster" in history.

"As South Korea's diplomatic situation matures, North Korea should also show a more mature attitude, not a childish one, and contribute to (establishing a better) diplomatic relationship", said Jin Hyo-seon, 33, a painter.

Rep. Park Byeong-seug of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party said he had a short conversation with Kim Yong-jae, Pyongyang's minister of external economic relations.

He said the missile's trajectory indicated the North was clearly testing the re-entry technology under flight environments that would be consistent for an ICBM.

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the missile launch, telling reporters during a visit to China that "there's nothing good about" it.

The White House statement called for stronger sanctions against the North but did not directly threaten military action.

Trump has advocated for a diplomatic solution to the uptick in North Korean aggravations, but he said last month that he would not rule out a major conflict with North Korea.

The launch came as troops from the U.S., Japan and two European nations gather near Guam for drills that are partly a message to North Korea.


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