NK freakout

Latest NK Ballistic Missile Was A New Type With Dramatically Longer Range
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, May 14 2017

After NK on Sunday morning it fired off yet another ballistic missile from Kusong near the border with China, one which this time did not explode upon launch, just days after the election of a new SK president who ironically advocates more engagement with Pyongyang, experts said the missile appeared to be a new type of ballistic missile, and had a far greater range than any other weapon NK has successfully launched. According to the Japanese Defense Minister, the missile rose to a height of about 2,000 km, a much steeper trajectory than usual for a NK missile test. She also confirmed that officials were looking into the possibility that it was a “new type of ballistic missile.” Japan’s cabinet secretary said the missile traveled for about 30 minutes and landed 700 km east of the launch site. A spox for SK Joint Chiefs of Staff estimated the distance at 435 miles. Cited by the WSJ, independent experts said the missile, if fired at a conventional angle, could have flown 2,800 miles, far enough to reach the Pindo military base in Guam. That is a considerably longer range than its current missiles. As the WSJ adds, while NK’s Taepodong-2 rocket has flown farther than Sunday’s missile, NK classifies it as a satellite launcher that isn’t designed to deliver a warhead back to earth. It is, however, banned by UNSCRs because similar technology could be used to make an ICBM. NK’s previous most recent launch from Kusong took place in February, during a summit meeting between Trump and Japanese PM Abe. The February launch also featured a new type of missile for NK, one that uses a solid fuel-powered engine. The test involved an IRBM that was modified from a missile that NK launched from a submarine last year. It was later paraded through the streets of Pyongyang in April for a national holiday.

The missile that NK fired Sunday flew further than the previous one launched from Kusong, and its high trajectory, which missile experts said appeared to be a record for NK, seemed designed to ensure that it didn’t land in Japan’s territory

Whatever the missile’s model, however, the response among the international community was prompt. Moon Jae-in, SK’s newly elected president, convened an emergency meeting of his NSC hours after Sunday’s launch, according to a spox in Seoul.

During the meeting, Moon condemned the missile launch as “a grave violation of UNSCRs” and expressed frustration at NK for testing a missile just days after Moon had said in his inaugural address that he would do whatever it takes to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to the spox. Moon called NK’s missile test a “reckless provocation” and promised a decisive response, although he also kept open the possibility of dialogue, calling for “a change in attitude” by Pyongyang, said the spox.

Lee Seong-hyon, a research fellow at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, told the WSJ it was common for NK to test a new leader in SK, adding that it gave Moon a chance to burnish his national-security credentials and commitment to Seoul’s traditional alliance with Washington. He said:

Pyongyang gave an opportunity for Seoul and Washington to publicly affirm their alliance. For Moon, by declaring today that there won’t be any ‘unconditional dialogue’ with NK, he brushed aside some skepticism that he may be ‘soft’ on NK.

A spox in Seoul said McMaster had a 25-minute phone call with his SK counterpart after the missile test. Both sides condemned the launch and reaffirmed their commitment to working toward a denuclearized NK. As we noted last night, the launch also came just as China’s Pres Xi convened a gathering of world leaders including Pres Putin in Beijing to kick off a high-profile “One Belt One Road” infrastructure plan that reflects China’s ambitions for influence across Central Asia and into Europe. China’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday noted UNSCRs that limit NK’s ballistic-missile launches and urged all parties to “exercise restraint and do nothing to further worsen regional tensions.” Meanwhile, the White House said Pres Trump had been briefed on the launch. The official statement contained an odd reference to Russia, which in recent weeks the media has suggested could be using its relationship with NK as leverage for diplomatic purposes. It said:

With the missile impacting so close to Russian soil, in fact, closer to Russia than Japan, the President cannot imagine that Russia is pleased

Russia, however, did not express nearly as much concern about the latest launch. The Russian Defense Ministry saidthat Russian missile defense systems tracked the missile test, that it landed some 500 km from Russia, and that it hadn’t posed a threat. It said:

Russia’s ballistic missile launch early warning system detected the launch form NK at about 08:30 UTC on Saturday. The ballistic target had been tracked in flight by the SPRN for 23 minutes before it fell into the central part of the Sea of Japan, some 500 km from the territory of Russia. The missile’s trajectory was away from Russia, at a considerable distance from its border. The missile launch didn’t pose any threat to the Russian Federation. Russian early warning radar and air defense forces are on regular duty now,.

In a separate comment posted on Russia’s Interfax wire service, Maj-Gen Bogatyryov, a military expert who worked in the Defense Ministry’s central apparatus, said the missile launches carried out by NK are testimony primarily to its desire to ensure its own national security in the face of the military threat emanating from Pindostan and its vassals in the region. Bogatyryov told Interfax-AVN on Sunday:

Today’s missile launch carried out by North Korea is yet another attestation of the DPRK trying in every possible way to exercise its right to defend its national interests. It is time for Faschingstein and its vassals, and the global community, to look at the problem of security on the Korean peninsula from a different perspective, by taking into account not only their own interests, but Pyongyang’s concerns as well. Constant threats to solve the problem militarily, encroachments on the DPRK’s sovereignty, the large-scale joint drills held by Pindostan with Japan and SK near NK’s border, are forcing Pyongyang to keep its gunpowder dry by maintaining combat readiness at the highest level, including by regularly ‘snarling’ missile launches. It is no security threat to Russia.

Which begs the question: is the apparent softening of Russia’s position toward NK an attempt to gain leverage with the Kim regime, and if so what does the Kremlin gain from it, especially since even Beijing had voiced a vocal condemnation of Pyongyang’s recent provocations, and followed through with coal import and oil export sanctions. While still a low probability, the potential emergence of a Russia-NK axis could lead to a potential complication for Pindo plans to deter the Kim regime by all means possible, including a potential “decapitation” strike as has been proposed in recent weeks.

One Comment

  1. Posted May 15, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    I suppose congratulations are in order. And crossed fingers.

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