Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of Trump-Xi meeting

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House voted on two bills that condemn North Korea's recent test of ballistic missiles and asks the U.S. Department of State to officially declare the country a state-sponsor of terrorism. He told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday that "Japan can not tolerate North Korea's repeated provocative actions".

US officials said the missile launched on Wednesday appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile that only travelled a fraction of its range before spinning out of control. "We have no further comment", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

The United States has been pushing China to put pressure on North Korea to stop its nuclear program and missile testing, but Trump said on Sunday the United States would be prepared to act alone to stop North Korea.

"While it is entirely possible it was the land-based KN-15, it very well could have been a test of their SLBM system that was conducted on land", said Dave Schmerler, an expert at the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

In early March, North Korea launched five medium-range Scud-type missiles. North Korea's state media has also said the world will soon witness what it calls "eventful successes" the country achieves in the space development. North Korea had previously been suspected by researchers of being behind several major thefts, including one a year ago in which up to $81 million was stolen from Bangladesh's central bank account in NY, as well as other attempted heists in Ecuador, the Philippines and Vietnam.

So North Korea may not have minded giving a fresh look of its capabilities ahead of the Trump-Xi summit while sticking to its own weapons development schedule, said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.

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The isolated regime conducted 24 ballistic missile tests during 2016, and experts say it could have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the USA mainland within a few years.

North Korean state media said the "Pukguksong-2" missile is a surface-to-surface missile that can carry nuclear warheads. "China summit", said Yhusuke Yamada, a senior strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo.

Hyten labeled the February launch of the KN-11 missile as "a major advancement" by North Korea because it was "a new solid medium range ballistic missile off a new transporter erector launcher". Pyongyang has routinely threatened to use the full extent of its nuclear arsenal in response to perceived hostilities by the US and Washington's regional allies such as South Korea and Japan.

As well as a growing list of ballistic missile launches, North Korea has also conducted two nuclear weapons tests since January 2016.

North Korea's foreign ministry on Monday assailed Washington for its tough talk and for an ongoing joint military exercise with South Korea and Japan which Pyongyang sees as a dress rehearsal for invasion.

  • Sonia Alvarado