04 July 2017

North Korea ballistic missile test sees Kim Jong-un launch rocket into the Sea of Japan in latest provocation

NORTH Korea launched another ballistic missile today as tyrant Kim Jong-un ramped up his programme aimed at developing warheads capable of striking the US mainland.

The South’s military said “unidentified ballistic missile” was fired from a site near Panghyon in North Phyongan province and landed in the Sea of Japan.

The missile flew several hundred miles before crashing into the ocean off the coast of Japan, South Korea military chiefs said. File image used
Kim Jong-un risks Donald Trump’s wrath after possibly launching the missile to coincide with the US’s Independence Day

The provocation comes just days after Seoul’s new leader Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump focused on the threat from Pyongyang in their first summit.

The device may have come down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a spokeswoman for Tokyo’s defence ministry said – waters extending 200 nautical miles from its coast.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile flew “for about 40 minutes” – an unusually long flight time.

“This launch of a ballistic missile can never be tolerated, and Japan strongly protested to North Korea and condemned it,” he told a briefing.

Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself against the threat of invasion and has carried out multiple launches since Moon – who backs engagement with the North but also stresses the need for sanctions – was elected in May.

At their summit in Washington at the weekend, Trump declared that the US had run out of patience with North Korea over its weapons drive.

“Together, we are facing the threat of the reckless and brutal regime in North Korea,” Trump said. “The nuclear and ballistic missile programs of that regime require a determined response.

South Korean president Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump pictured together during a recent summit in the US
Rex Features

“The North Korean dictatorship has no regard for the safety and security of its people, for its neighbours and has no respect for human life.”

He later discussed the issue in separate phone calls with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Shea Cotton, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in the US, suggested Tuesday’s launch was deliberately timed to coincide with the anniversary of the US declaration of independence.

“It’s already 4th of July in North Korea,” he said on Twitter. “I somewhat suspect they’re shooting off some fireworks today specifically because of that.”

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