World

North Korea Launches New Unidentified Ballistic Missile

| by Kathryn Schroeder

North Korea successfully fired a ballistic missile on May 14 that may be a new, unknown type.

The missile was released from the Kusong region, northwest of capital Pyongyang, and flew 430 miles and reached an altitude of more than 1,245 miles, Reuters reports. The distance and height were greater than the intermediate-range missile North Korea successfully tested in February.

The launch occurred days after the new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, pledged to open a dialogue between his country and North Korea.

While the missile has been labeled as ballistic, the U.S. Pacific Command said an assessment was being done because it was "not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile."

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"If that report ... is correct, then the launch may indeed represent a new missile with a long range," said Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"It is definitely concerning," he said.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi said it could be a new type of missile. There have been reports that North Korea is developing an intercontinental missile tipped with a nuclear weapon that would be capable of reaching the United States.

David Wright, missile expert and co-director of the UCS Global Security Program, said the missile, if it were fired at a standard trajectory, would have a maximum range of about 2,800 miles. But Kim Dong-yub at South Korea's Kyngnam University's Institute of Far Eastern Studies estimated the missile's range at 3,700 miles, which would make reaching Hawaii possible.

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The White House issued the following statement, according to NPR, after news broke of the missile launch: 

With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil -- in fact, closer to Russia than to Japan -- the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased.

North Korea has been a flagrant menace for far too long. South Korea and Japan have been watching this situation closely with us. The United States maintains our ironclad commitment to stand with our allies in the face of the serious threat posed by North Korea. Let this latest provocation serve as a call for all nations to implement far stronger sanctions against North Korea.

The missile was in the air for 30 minutes before it fell into the sea between North Korea's east coast and Japan, Reuters reports Japan said.

Before this successful launch, North Korea has had four consecutive failures since March.

South Korea's president called the launch a "clear violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

China, North Korea's only ally, said it opposes the launch activities and that "all relevant parties should exercise restraint."

Sources: NPR, Reuters / Photo credit: Naval Surface Warriors/Flickr

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