Tensions About New North Korean Missile Tests Return in Japan After Talks Stall.
Misawa Air Base in northern Honshu, Japan, issued a “Real World Missile Alert” on its official Facebook page Thursday in response to a North Korean ballistic missile test on Thursday.
North Korea launched two missiles toward an open ocean impact area located between North Korea and Japan Thursday. This was the first time North Korea had conducted live-fire missile testing in almost a month. The new North Korean tests come as denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea have come to a standstill.
Reuters.com reporter Josh Smith wrote that, “Analysts said the launches underscore how tense the situation has become after three meetings between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump – unprecedented top-level contact between the countries – failed to lead to any agreement over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.”
There is a December 31, 2019 deadline for arms limitation talks between North Korea and the U.S. to move forward. This latest round of missile testing is likely intended by the North Koreans to put pressure on the U.S. administration to return to the bargaining table on arms talks.
Reuters went on to report, “The first of two “unidentified projectiles” was fired on Thursday at 4:35 p.m. local time (0735 GMT) from South Phyongan Province, in the center of North Korea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a series of statements. A second projectile was detected at 4:38 p.m. (0738 GMT). The projectiles traveled an estimated 370 kilometers (230 miles) and reached an altitude of 90 km (56 miles), the JCS said, calling them ‘short range’”.
It is interesting that the interval between the launches was only 3 minutes according to reports, suggesting that North Korean may have been testing technologies involved in launching a large-scale missile strike.
This latest incident follows a menacing October 2, 2019 test by North Korea of their new Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off the coast of Wonsan, North Korea. The Pukguksong-3 is a two-stage, solid-fuel ballistic missile. This latest test of the type followed a nearly vertical flight path and reached 950km in altitude. The submarine launched missile impacted approximately 450 km from its launch site. If the Pukguksong-3 had used a flatter, standard trajectory, it would have crossed over Japan and flown between 1,900 and 2,000 km. This would have been North Korea’s longest range missile test ever.