Motives for North Korea's latest missile test

Andrew Cummings
April 5, 2017

North Korea fired a newly developed powerful ballistic missile into its eastern waters Wednesday, U.S. and South Korean officials said, amid worries the North might conduct nuclear or long-range rocket tests ahead of the first summit between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping this week. When conducting nuclear and missiles tests in recent years, it has cited what it calls increasing US military threats.

The missile did not go as far as intended, officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence reports said.

Earlier this week, a senior North Korean defector told NBC News that dictator Kim Jong Un was "desperate" to maintain his rule and was prepared to use nuclear weapons against the U.S. and its allies, warning that the "world should be ready".

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

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called it "a clear violation of the United Nations security council resolution".

The comments by the president came weeks after Tillerson had also declared during a visit to Asia that the US policy of "strategic patience has ended".

The South Korean military said the missile was sacked from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew about 60 kilometers (40 miles).

A Japanese defense official confirmed the launch to Japan's Kyodo news agency.

It was North Korea's fourth attempted missile launch of the year.

The U.S. has issued what seemed to be its "last warning" to North Korea over its continued launch of ballistic missiles that threaten the country and its allies-Japan and South Korea. Or was the launch just part of its broader missile development programs, with outsiders reading too much from a routine weapons test?

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who had hinted at taking "military options" against the North's military provocations, issued a terse statement, saying "The United States has spoken enough about North Korea".

"We have no further comment", Tillerson said in the statement.

The firing was also made as the US and South Korea continue to carry out their annual military drills, which North Korea reportedly sees as practice for an invasion.

"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated, but they definitely hate to be ignored", Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said after Wednesday's launch.

The primary concern surrounding North Korea's weapons program is that Pyongyang could eventually equip long-range missiles with a nuclear warhead.

North Korea has long fired missiles and detonated nuclear devices during major political events in South Korea and the United States, and before or during regional talks.

The North has fired missiles when South Korea hosted the 2010 Group of 20 summit and other events, and while top USA officials were traveling in the region.

They have plenty to discuss, but North Korea is certain to be one of the top items on the agenda when the leaders of the world's two superpowers meet at President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida this week.

North Korea often responds to the drills with its own military training and harsh rhetoric.

Other reports by iNewsToday