North Korea's missile launches seen as pressure on Moon administration - South Korea

Besides its regular ballistic missile test-launches, North Korea carried out two of its five nuclear tests a year ago — in January and September.

"The ministry added that the missile is believed to be of a Scud type, according to the agency".

This sets up the potential that Pyongyang is looking to use the test to show it can hit US targets near and far and to emphasize its defiance of USA -led pressure on its missile and nuclear programs, which has included vague threats from President Donald Trump and the arrival in Korean waters of powerful US military hardware.

He said Japan will "take concrete steps with the U.S. in order to deter North Korea", although he did not elaborate on specific actions.

Despite Trump's strident warnings, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in an interview which aired Sunday before the launch that a war with North Korea would be "catastrophic".

North Korea is still thought to be several years from its goal of being able to target USA mainland cities with a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea said that projectile was a ground-to-ground strategic ballistic missile Pukguksong-2, state news agency KCNA reported. The missile launch "is highly problematic from the perspective of the safety of shipping and air traffic" and is a clear violation of United Nations resolutions, Suga said.

Despite the missile launches, South Korea under Moon has made tentative steps toward engaging the North by restarting stalled civilian aid and exchange programs.

"The military is saying that the launch took place from Wonsan, home to a test site of intermediate-range missiles", Lee reports. It wasn't clear from the state media report when the test happened. South Korean military leaders say the launch, the third since new South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office May 10, appears to be part of an effort to get Seoul to change its policies.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that G7 leaders had agreed that repeated provocations by North Korea were seen as a top priority for the global community. Moon says sanctions alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North's advancing nuclear and missile program.

The latest launch demonstrates the North's determination to secure more leverage in any future negotiations with the U.S., said Cho Han-Bum, analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Suga, the Japanese cabinet secretary, told reporters that the missile fell about 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of the Oki islands in southwestern Japan and 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Sado island in central Japan.

Following North Korea's test-firing earlier this month of what analysts said was its longest-range rocket yet, the UN Security Council vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang.

The launch went ahead despite tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised last week at the G7 summit that the "big problem" of North Korea "will be solved". Mattis refused to comment in detail, when asked if there was a theoretical red line, or a point of no return for North Korea, that would force the intervene militarily.

  • Leroy Wright