Korea's THAAD Delay Risks More Kim Provocations

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea launched the missiles early Thursday from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan, and that they flew about 200 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan. The surface-to-sea munition hit static targets in the ocean after making "circular flights", KCNA quoted North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as saying.

North Korea's latest missile test is fueling concerns, the North has taken another step closer to its eventual goal developing an ICBM, capable of reaching the us mainland.

The United States and South Korea have said the THAAD system is only aimed at defending against North Korean missiles.

The North did not disclose how many missiles it launched, but according to South Korea's national security director Chung Eui-yong on Friday, the North fired four short-range missiles.

North Korea waited to test these missiles until two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups armed to the teeth with missile defense capabilities left its shores, perhaps to avoid embarrassment should the United States knock them down.

The North Korean missile tests present a hard challenge to new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has expressed a desire to reach out to the North.

The Global Times, published by China's official People's Daily, said in an editorial that no matter the outcome of the environmental study, South Korea's announcement could reduce friction.

Drone incursions from the North have increased in recent years.

"If Japan is concerned about its security, it should not act (as) a poodle of the US but withdraw its hostile policy toward the DPRK and remove the USA military bases for aggression from its territory", a spokesman for the North's National Peace Committee of Korea was quoted by KCNA as saying Wednesday.

Pyongyang conducted its latest test of new ground-to-sea projectiles developed by the National Academy of Defense Sciences "capable of striking" any enemy fleets "at will", Efe news reported.

North Korea missile launches showed that THAAD was "important to, not only to protect U.S. forces, to protect our alliance and to. help to further strengthen the region", Nauert said.

Many South Koreans oppose THAAD because they fear it will have negative economic and environmental effects while being positioned mainly to protect US forces in southern areas. But strategically, it would not be wise for Washington to let North Korea continue testing its weapons either.

North Korea fired on Thurday several anti-ship cruise missiles from the country's east coast, South Korea's military said, as cited by South Korean news agency Yonhap. This was a form of protesting South Korea's support of fresh United Nations sanctions adopted last week.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Anita Friedt will travel to Seoul and Tokyo from Monday to Friday for meetings and events focused on US nuclear policy and extended deterrence, the department announced earlier in the day.

The U.S. last week tested a defense system that it said successfully intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile. Military analysts anticipate Pyongyang will be able to install about 10 nuclear warheads on its missiles within the year by using its supply of more than 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of plutonium.

  • Leroy Wright