Shortly after President Donald Trump met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, North Korea performed a launch test of its newest ballistic missile, as reported by South Korean officials.
The medium-range ballistic missile landed in the Sea of Japan early on Sunday. Shortly after the test, Abe delivered a news conference in which he asserted that North Korea is forbidden from carrying out ballistic missile launches, as dictated by the U.N. Security Council. Trump weighed in after Abe’s statement, assuring that the U.S. stands behind Japan at a “100%.”
“North Korea’s most recent missile launch is absolutely intolerable. North Korea must fully comply with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” stated Prime Minister Abe, according to CNN.
More tests to come for Pyongyang and Trump
The missile appears to be a close relative to Musudan missiles, indicating that it should not have a range longer than 8,000 km. Musudan missiles are not designed to deliver nuclear warheads, and the missile launched on Sunday managed to fly just over 500 kilometers before landing. This became the 25th launch performed by the dictatorial nation, counting the ones taking place in 2016.
In response, South Korean officials held a meeting to assess the risk of North Korea insisting on performing missile tests, endangering peace all along the Korean peninsula and Eastern Asia.
Intelligence reports suggest that North Korea is intending on developing at least two Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles to test in the near future. There is a discrepancy about how soon it might be, but the many test launches that the nation has enacted in the last 12 months show that there is a clear objective of fully developing its armed potential.
“This intermediate ballistic missile is certainly dangerous. It has a greater range than some of the Musudan missiles that they have been testing prior to that. And it’s not only a concern for the United States to hit the mainland, but it also has concerns for all of our Asia partners,” stated retired Lt. General Mark Hertling to CNN. He indicates that North Korea is first trying to test the missiles’ range and durability, although accuracy is far from being efficient in terms of weapon usage.
Recently, U.S. intelligence informed that North Korea was preparing missiles on mobile launchers, although these projectiles are shorter than 50 feet, reducing their potential range of destruction. Satellite images also reveal that the country’s main plutonium reactor has resumed operations. This paired with two nuclear tests performed in 2016 show that Kim Jong-Un is all but deterred from his nuclear arms race.
The Trump administration had been expecting some sort of North Korean provocation after the President took office, mainly because of Trump’s pledge to toughen up on East Asia relations. Also, Trump tweeted back on January 2 that, despite North Korea announcing to be in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the U.S., “it won’t happen.”
The recent launch represents the first ballistic test performed by North Korea under Trump’s watch, resulting in a prelude of how the President will react to future provocations by Kim Jong-Un.