North Korea launched its first missile test of 2017, lobbing one about 500 kilometres into the Sea of Japan. The action occurred as U.S. President Donald Trump was hosting Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Largo, Trump’s winter retreat.
South Korean defense officials and the U.S. Strategic Command say North Korea test-fired a “medium- or intermediate-range” ballistic missile early Sunday morning local time, which flew eastward for about 500 kilometres from the west coast of North Korea, over the peninsula and landed in the Sea of Japan.
This marks the first missile test by the Kim Jong Un regime since October, and the first under the new Donald Trump presidency.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appearing in a hastily arranged press conference with Trump following the test, said the move was “absolutely intolerable” and called on North Korea to fully comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions, which forbid Pyongyang from these types of tests.
“The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” Trump said, and took no questions.
The U.N. resolution — and repeated sanctions — have failed to curb the Kim regime, which test-fired missiles more than 20 times last year, and more than 50 since Kim Jong Un became leader five years ago.
South Korea convened an emergency national security meeting Sunday morning in response to the launch. South Korea’s Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn said Seoul will work with the international community “to punish [the North] accordingly.”
There’s no situation room at Mar-a-Largo, so Abe and Trump talked over the news about the missile launch at their dinner table situated in the middle of the room, according to this CNN story (“At Mar-a-Lago, Trump tackles crisis diplomacy at close range“). They were surrounded by civilian diners, as Trump continues to operate his Winter White House as a private club.
After being elected president, Trump doubled the membership dues to US$200,000 per year.
On Monday, North Korea pronounced the test successful, saying it was for a new type of ballistic missile. From Reuters via the Globe and Mail (“North Korea says new ballistic missile test successful“):
North Korea fired the ballistic missile on a high arc into the sea early on Sunday, the first test of U.S. President Donald Trump’s vow to get tough on an isolated regime that tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles last year at an unprecedented rate.
The North’s state-run KCNA news agency said leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test of the Pukguksong-2, a new type of strategic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The United States, Japan and South Korea requested urgent U.N. Security Council consultations on the test, with a meeting expected on Monday afternoon, an official in the U.S. mission to the United Nations said.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year, although its claims to be able to miniaturise a nuclear weapon to be mounted on a missile have never been verified independently.