North Korea is declaring its latest ballistic missile test a success, leaving the United States and its allies fuming.
Pyongyang’s state-run news agency Monday called it a test of a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapons system.
It said the defects discovered in previous tests have been worked out, and that the system should be deployed across North Korea “like forests.”
Monday’s test-firing came just days after world leaders at the G-7 economic summit demanded that Pyongyang give up its nuclear ambitions.
Missile tracked for six minutes
The U.S. Pacific Command says the launch came near the town of Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast. The command tracked the missile for six minutes before it fell into the Sea of Japan, in what is known as Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
The command says the missile posed no threat to North America. But an angry Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to respond.
“Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea,” Abe said on Japanese television.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a Twitter comment, “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile.” But Trump gave Beijing credit for “trying hard” to rein in Pyongyang’s military ambitions.
Warning from Mattis
The Trump administration, while serving up strong words against North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un, has yet to produce a firm policy on how to react to Pyongyang.
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, however, warned Sunday that if a diplomatic solution cannot be found for the situation with North Korea “it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat.”
“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea,” Mattis told the CBS News show Face the Nation. “This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea, and in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia, as well.”
The secretary said conflict with North Korea would be “probably the worst kind of fighting in most people’s lifetimes.”
Second test in a week
This was North Korea’s second missile test in a week, coming after the United Nations threatened more sanctions and G-7 leaders condemned the North for its previous launch.
North Korea apparently is determined to develop a missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon and able to reach the U.S. mainland. But it is nearly impossible to know how much progress it has made towards that goal.
Along with the threat of more sanctions, Trump has dispatched a naval strike force to waters off the Korean peninsula and held joint military exercises with South Korea as warnings.