The defiant ballistic-missile tests from the Hermit Kingdom continue.
On Wednesday at approximately 5:30 a.m. local time, North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) near the coastal city of Sinpo.
US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) detected and tracked the presumed KN-11 missile over the Sea of Japan.
“The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” STRATCOM said in a statement.
This is the first time a North Korean missile reached Japan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during a briefing.
According to Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies and founder of Arms Control Wonk, the rogue nation’s latest test appears to be a success.
“We don’t know the full range, but 500 km is either full range or a full range on a lofted trajectory. Either way, that missile works,” Lewis told Reuters.
The North first attempted a submarine-based missile launch last year and again at the end of April this year. A South Korean military official told Reuters that North Korea’s “SLBM technology appears to have progressed.”
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch appears to be an apparent protest against the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian military drill between Seoul and Washington.
Earlier this month, Pyongyang simultaneously launched two “No Dong” intermediate-range ballistic missiles near the western city of Hwangju.
According to STRATCOM, one of the missiles exploded immediately after launch, while the other was tracked over North Korea before ultimately landing in the Sea of Japan. Notably, that was the first time that the rogue nation had ever targeted Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described the launch as a “grave threat” to Japan and said that Tokyo “strongly protested.” Japan also said that its self-defence force would remain on alert in case of further defiant launches from the North.
According to Oh Joon, South Korea’s UN ambassador, North Korea has conducted 13 rounds of ballistic-missile tests and has fired 29 various rockets.
Meanwhile, China, Pyongyang’s closest ally, said that North Korean missile tests have expanded since the bilateral decision between Seoul and Washington to deploy THAAD.
Mad about THAAD
Following that announcement, the Hermit Kingdom fired three ballistic missiles that had a range — between 300 and 360 miles — capable of reaching all of South Korea.
As one of the most advanced missile-defence systems in the world, THAAD interceptors are able to identify and obliterate incoming enemy threats inside and outside of the atmosphere.
In conjunction with the approximately 28,500 US forces in South Korea, Seoul plans to have the unique air-defence system operational by the end of 2017.
US Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, former commander of NORAD stressed the importance of deploying THAAD to protect the Korean Peninsula and US interests during a Hudson Institute discussion.
“The truth of the matter is THAAD was really the logical choice, and after intense debate and trying to assess what the complexities of the environment might hold … we really can’t get in a world where we refuse to defend ourselves,” Jacoby said.
“There is still US forces there, they are playing a defence role, and they are at risk every day to a host of threats that now include the potential for ballistic-missile-carried weapons of mass destruction … We cannot not act,” Jacoby added.
Similarly, during a discussion at the Brookings Institution, CIA Director John Brennan said that the deployment of THAAD to the region was an “obligation” on behalf of the US.
“We have certain obligations to our partners and the region so that the appropriate steps are taken to reassure our friends, partners, and allies of US commitment to the security of that area,” Brennan told Business Insider.
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