FIRST SUSPECTED ICBM LAUNCH BY NORTH KOREA SINCE 2017

 

North Korea Has Launched What Is Believed To Be Its First Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (Icbm) In More Than Four Years As Western Leaders Gather In Brussels For A Security Summit. The presumed ICBM flew to an altitude of 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) and 1,080 kilometers (671 miles) with a flight time of 71 minutes before splashing down in waters off  the west coast of Japan onThursday, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.

The Thursday’s blastoff is the 11th in North Korea, including the March 16 launch that supposedly failed. Current affairs analysts said the test could be the longest-range missile North Korea has launched to date, surpassing the last ICBM launch in November 2017. Japan’s Deputy Defense Minister Makoto Oniki told reporters Thursday that the missile’s height would suggest it was a ‘new type of ICBM,’ a possible indication that North Korea is closer to building weapons capable of targeting the United States.

The North Korean state media later appeared to confirm Oniki’s assessment, announcing the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile, the country’s newest known type of ICBM. Reacting to the incident, the United States partners with South Korea and Japan in condemning Thursday’s missile launch and called on North Korea to refrain from further destabilizing actions.

President Joe Biden of US is currently in Belgium, where he is attending the G7 summit alongside Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The Belgium confrence is part of a series of meetings, including an extraordinary NATO summit, as Western leaders seek to align their responses to Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. OnThursday, the European Council meeting will also take place. Current analysts said, the recent wave of North Korean missile tests indicates that the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, is trying to show an increasingly turbulent world that Pyongyang remains a player in the battle for power and influence.

‘North Korea refuses to be ignored and may be trying to take advantage of the global preoccupation with the war in Ukraine to impose a fait accompli on its status as a nuclear missiles nation,’ Lev Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, told reporters. ‘The North Korea is not near to initiating aggression on the scale of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Pyongyang’s ambitions similarly go beyond self-defense as it wants to overturn the security order in post-war Asia,’ Easley added. The North Korean Thursday’s test also comes in just two weeks after South Korea inaugurated a new conservative president, Yoon Seok-yeol, who is expected to take a tougher stance against North Korea than outgoing President Moon Jae-in. In reaction to the presumed ICBM missile launch Thursday, the South Korean military launched several warning missiles for the first time since 2017, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a text sent to reporters.

The South Korean army is monitoring the movements of the North Korean military and has confirmed that ‘we have the capability and the position to strike the original missile launch site, command and to support facilities any time North Korea launches a missile,’ the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Public analysts said North Korea clearly conducted a so-called upper missile test on Thursday. ‘It is a tactic they often use to test long-range systems without flying provocatively over another country,’ said Joseph Dempsey, a research associate in defense and military analysis at the foreign Institute for Strategic Studies in London. According to Dempsey, primary data for Thursday’s test suggested it could be the Hwasong-17, an ICBM much larger than the Hwasong-15 tested in 2017.

Kim Jong Un wants the world to know that he still matters. And at least seven missile tests in a month may prove it

Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the data suggested tha Thursday’s missile could have a maximum range of about 15,000 kilometers (9,320 miles) — apparently making it within reach of the continental United States, relying on the weight of the warhead. Which will be carrying – and farther than Hwasong-15 by about 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles). Regardless the potentially expanded scope, Kim said Pyongyang has yet to prove it can master the technology required to enable a warhead to successfully re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in the final stages of flight. The US Defense Department said earlier this month that Pyongyang’s other latest launches, on February 26 and March 4, were likely to test a new ICBM system. The US Indo-Pacific Command announced earlier this month that the US is ramping up ‘intelligence-gathering, readiness, and surveillance activities’ related to North Korea after the recent missile launches. A move which is signal from the Biden administration that it needs to bolster its military posture to ensure that the United States and its allies in the region such like South Korea and Japan are protected from North Korean missile tests.

According to the command,  ‘it is in order to intensify intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities in the Yellow Sea, as well as to enhance readiness among the ballistic missile defense forces in the region.’ At beginning of this month, the US military conducted exercises in and around the Korean peninsula to demonstrate its readiness in the wake of North Korean activity, including simulating ballistic missile defense systems. US Army’s 35th Air Defense Brigade has moved to a remote location, ‘occupying its wartime defensive position, installing the Patriot missile system and carrying out air and missile defense strategies in a simulated combat scenario,’ US Forces Korea said in a press release.

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